Revisiting “That time of the year again”

A reader asked me to pen something on the Auditor General’s report.

I was reluctant to write this year, not because I thought there is any improvement in wastage and leakage, but rather what was revealed was nothing new anymore.

Year in and Year out, I have written on the abuses revealed, and yet the same thing happens again and again.

I think it would suffice just to paraphrase one of my old article written in October 2009. Just change the ministries and the items procured, and you have my view:  ( the abuse is so widespread that different papers are publishing different abnormalities in procurements of different things.. Perhaps readers can help filling in the ministries and items)

   That time of the year again 


It is that time of the year again.

No, I am not referring to the ‘durian’ season, nor to the festivities like Deepavali, Hari Raya or Mid Autumn Festival.

I am referring to the time when lay men like you and me feel angry and frustrated towards certain ‘wrongs”, but are powerless to do anything.

Every year, since time immemorial, it has evoked the same feeling; but every year, we just sigh , comment with our ‘coffee kakis’ in ‘Kopitiams’ and shake our heads . People like me with a computer will probably write something to let off steam; the more important people, like those elected YBs from the other side of the divide, will probably pose some embarrassing questions in the Dewan.

The end results will be the same; life carries on and nothing changes. We will all forget about and talk on other issues until the time of the year is here again.

I refer to the week in the year when the Annual Auditor General’s report is released.

Many years back, the AG reports revealed that – those in the 20s and 30s might not remember- certain items of cutlery were bought for millions of ringgit, the purchasing power of which will be equivalent to the cost of a small new Honda jet now( I googled and found that Honda jets cost US$3.65 millions each a year ago ).

Well, not to be outdone, we have officers in different departments competing with each other to get listed in the AG report every year, as if it is a honour list not to be outdone by others.

This year the honour must go to a college in Balik Pulau Penang, which bought 2 laptops for RM $42,320 per piece, according to the Star online here. I do not know what advanced features this lap top has, but I only know that for that amount of money, I can buy more than a dozens of the computer which I am using now to write this.

Then again, if they bought a 19 inch monitor for Rm8,500 per unit, what do you expect? I can buy one for about a thousand ringgit. Not to mention the 450 units of computer CADs which cost RM3.45 million, an amount an average Malaysian can never hope to earn in a lifetime.

What can we all do? I will write and let off steam and this is now fast becoming a ritual at this time of the year. Many of my friends who do not like to write will probably go to Kopitiams again, commenting on these purchases, sighing and cursing, and soon forgetting about the whole thing again.

Do not blame these officers for buying above market prices. When they see the leaders paying tens of millions of commission to middle men in procurements, it is only human to follow suit.

When the top beams are crooked, the lower beams cannot be straight.


24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phua Kai Lit
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 12:21:43

    Dear Dr Hsu

    The AG Reports are not worthless.

    1. Publicity on their findings further de-legitimises the kleptocratic ruling regime

    2. They can be used as evidence for future prosecution (after a regime change)


  2. klm
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 12:24:02

    A Malaysian Tale
    Once there were three tsunami buoys
    The first one went missing before delivery
    The second one vanished into thin air mysteriously
    The third one was kept in the store for the occasional test
    But they were all paid for without protest


  3. klm
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 12:25:15

    Razaksat, what good is this thing
    Cannot see Ban from ting (Banting)
    A piece of expensive space scrap
    Shameful testimony of political crap


  4. Dr Hsu
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 12:47:52

    Prof Phua,
    The Auditor G’s report is actually a beacon of hope, but since Auditor General does not have prosecution power, it is up to the powers-that-be to act. When errant civil servants just received a reprimand or in some cases, transfer of department, it would not have any effects on others.

    errant officers must be more severely dealt with in order to develop a culture of accountability. perhaps General Orders should be changed so that errant civil servants can be sacked.. Only when these people are being severely dealt with, can there slowly emerge a culture of accounatbility.

    For example, this year’s report mentioned that more than 3 millions were spent to procure 3 tsunami warning system after the Big Sumatra Tsunami a few years ago, but 2 have since gone missing.. It was just like the missing jet engines.. why aren’t any investigation done on discovering the missing system?

    Are those responsible being dealt with? Is police report made? If so, what is the outcome of the investigation? Why aren’t the public informed of this by the department instead of learning it from auditor’s report? If there any attempt at cover up? Did the Sec Gen of that ministry concerned knew about the missing systems? Just in one case, so many questions can be asked..

    I just quote this instance as an example..There are so many other examples..


  5. Kala Azar
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 13:08:00

    My apologies Dr for asking you to write about the same old stuffs. I didn’t go through your entire blog (I’m kind of new here). It’s non-constructive to comment about something over and over again.


  6. sally
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 14:53:52

    “Every year, since time immemorial, it has evoked the same feeling; but every year, we just sigh , comment with our ‘coffee kakis’ in ‘Kopitiams’ and shake our heads .”

    Since independence, numerous cases of non-compliance and extravagance had taken place. In the 1970s, a serious case of non–compliance implicating the Defense Ministry and Education Ministry engrossing almost RM100 million was made known. This trend continued even to 1990s but was still kept under lid. In 1997 however, a serious case was again identified in the Education Ministry amounting to RM800 million, including unpaid bills by the Police Department amounting to RM70 million following insufficient allocation in 1992-1997. In 1999, the AG also realized that following hasty planning, half on the 10,000 speed control gadget units for heavy transports bought at RM10 million could not be used. In the privatization sector, a concession for a support system in government hospital was found to be overdue and breached the conditions. Further, 2 separate hardware programs for the Health Ministry and the Traffic Police Department which each used up RM8.77 and RM48.47 million also could not function. [sic]

    “What can we all do? I will write and let off steam and this is now fast becoming a ritual at this time of the year. Many of my friends who do not like to write will probably go to Kopitiams again, commenting on these purchases, sighing and cursing, and soon forgetting about the whole thing again.”


  7. CYC
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 17:05:32

    So now you believe our govt is clean and our ministers are all care about the citizens. Come on, take responsibility and resign if you are unable to clear the allegations. But this is only my fantasy and it never happen in Malaysia’s politics. For those who still habour hopes on the present regime, go get your brain scanned. If Man City can ignite the hope of regime change by beating the arrogant Man U 6-1. I don’t see why we can’t have a regime change in the coming GE unless majority of us are fools who enjoyed being conned.


  8. CYC
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 17:48:35

    KTK, are u still steering ETP around or u are just an office boy carrying Idris Jala’s bag? Transform what? (E)at (T)hen (P)angsai arr ? If economy can be transformed by formulas cooked up inside the lab, do u think why US is still screwed up their financial/economic woes without any tangible solutions. When u screwed up the due process, your cake become “sai”.That simple. Our PM has shouted transformation for more than 2 years, but u still see projects been awarded without open tender. There are also thousands of millionaires out there who can’t justify their wealth. Again, no action taken. Honestly, only retarded people will have the guts to shout in defense of BN (all MCA n Gelakans elites included)


  9. aiz
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 18:00:04

    (From Aspan Alias blog)

    “Dalam lapuran Ketua Audit negara yang baru dikeluarkan itu nampak jelas tidak ada Islamnya lagi. Barang yang berharga RM 400 dibeli oleh jabatan-jabatan yang terlibat dengan harga lebih dari seribu ringgit.

    Pembelian alat keperluan angkatan tentera yang Def Tech boleh bekalkan dengan harga RM450 juta dibekalkan dengan harga lebih dari RM5 billion. Dimana Islamnya dan dimana amanahnya sebagai pemimpin yang beragama Islam. Apa semuanya ini?”


  10. CYC
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 18:17:03

    Saya rasa penipuan and korupsi seumpama ini lebih beasr dosanya jika dibanding dengan kesalahan lain dari segi ugama. Islam tidak seharusnya dibabitkan dalam isu ini tetapi “pemimpin” yang mengaku sebagai pendaulat Islam sedangkan giat menyeleweng and korup mesti diadili kerana khianati ugama.

    Jangan sekali-kali saudara ditipu olih pemimpin yang bertopengkan keimanan palsu.


  11. cilipadi
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 23:53:56

    Islam is no more a religion to Umno
    But MP (Money & Power) is
    Islam is a tool to Umno
    To justify corruption, wastages
    To justify no accountability
    To hang on to power
    My Malay friends told me that
    He told me, Malays not stupid

    siapa makan cili, dia rasa pedas


  12. klm
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 09:05:01

    A rotting camp in Sarawak
    227M RM camp rotting in Sarawak
    Home fit only for the biawak
    Maybe it is Jibby’s idea of camouflage
    Covering it with rotten foliage


  13. Li Li Fa
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 09:40:41

    “When the top beams are crooked,
    the lower beams cannot be straight.”
    When one top beam is crooked
    Many lower beams cannot be straight
    And if all top beams are crooked
    All lower beams become crooked
    corrugated and cracked
    everything’s a creepy, crawly crisis


  14. chchew
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 10:51:47

    When the top beams are crooked,
    the lower beams cannot be straight.
    When the meals are not well cooked,
    the restaurant will be lowly rated.
    When the citizenry is well looked,
    the populace will be sated.
    A good government wont be shooked,
    the world speaks highly of a model State.


  15. Enna
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 11:46:32

    Hi Dr Hsu, slightly off topic, but since you write so many articles about brain drain, am hoping you will support. A group of Penangnites have started a facebook page re 1M Malaysians support PPSMI. To join group , please go to this link:!/groups/201659423239872/

    So far they have managed to get about 65,000 members in less than 2 weeks. My children are not really affected but I pity those stuck in this flippy floppy public school system of ours. BM for public schools, IGCSE AND IB courses for MARA scholars. Talk about double standards. Please support, and get your friends to do so!!
    P.S. I wish Gerakan would join forces with DAP in Penang. There really are a lot of good and more importantly, intellectual people in Gerakan!


  16. Dr Hsu
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 12:26:23

    Hi enna, I have joined PPSMI as an option.

    In fact, Gerakan and DAP has much similarity, especially in wanting a fair and equitable society..

    But after so many years of enmity between the two, they are unlikely to join forces, as there is just too much bad blood between the top.

    One example: When I was in Gerakan, I have mentioned that we should not be too partisan and should have allowed Lee Kah Chun to work for the State after 308 ( i called a press conference in KL to support Lee at that time), but the overwhelming voice from leadership is that Gerakan members cannot work for DAP, and thus Lee has to leave the party. He is one with leadership materials, and unfortunately , leaders like KTK( and people around him) are too shortsighted, and too caught up in the partisan game, and too subservient to big brother to chart a separate course.
    If Lee was allowed to work with DAP, other Gerakanists would probably follow and it would be seen that Gerakan is something that is different from UMNO, and is not dictated by UMNO. Unfortunately, what the top leaders remembered are the humiliations of defeats suffered at the hands of DAP during the past and present.


  17. Enna
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 17:34:20

    Thanks for joining! Get your friends to join too! Sad to hear that Gerakan has to be seen to be dictated by UMNO…..I feel that this little island has much potential and would do well with smart leadership…!


  18. Ellese
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 00:33:54

    Doc, agree with you. This yearly event must stop. People must be made accountable. MACC must move in. Why not make a highly publicise report at MACC to further put public pressure on MACC. Also propose bipartisan select committee. We need to set up a parliamentary mechanics as a precedent. It may be perceived toothless initially but this annual public process must be initiated.


  19. klm
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 11:17:33

    – Add your version to explain why they bought some dead, lame and missing horses . You can be as creative as you want.

    Spinning a dead horse
    No experience in buying a horse
    Said the minister,of course
    His misadventure in expose
    Bumbling for an excuse to propose

    A horse is a horse
    by any name is still a horse
    So he proposed
    To explain his misadventure exposed

    A horse with a limp is still a horse
    With three good legs it can run the course
    A dead horse is still a horse
    It is just a corse

    * corse – old word for corpse


  20. Atila
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 02:07:13

    Hi Dr Hsu !

    How are you?
    I did not visit our blog for a long time.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin DPM is in the making of making Malays more backwards in English Language, a majority race Malays will soon be useless and hopeless
    to the nation an unable to compete with global demands.

    Has he not gone to the grounds how many are turned down job offers becoz unable to converse-write in English &/or Mandarin?

    When i was in primary standard four (1970s’0, i was punished for “curi2” attended Mandarin classes. Later daddy told me that Malays cannot learn Mandarin
    becoz Umno feared Malays may join DAP or other Chinese majority political party.

    Three decades later, it did not take me to learn Mandarin to be in a Chinese
    majority political party. Umno’s theory was wrong !

    54 years after Merdeka, DPM should have executed in public schools not just English Language but also to include Mandarin and Tamil.

    1Malaysia, DPM’s head !!!!!!!!!


  21. Dr Hsu
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:01:53

    welcome back.

    In Malaysia, many decisions are based not on what is best for the country but rather based on what is best for the political self interest of the decision makers.

    i see DPM decision as more of a political one to consolidate his power in order to challenge for the top, not so much what is best for the people.


  22. klm
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:25:17

    This DPM is trying to enslave the Malay. By denying the Malay the chance to progress by taking the option to learn Science and Maths in English, he is creating a population of dependent electorates. This is politics of the worst kind.


  23. Ellese
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 21:55:41

    Dear doc,

    I thought I’ve emailed this earlier but did not appear.

    Anyway i was commenting on the claim by LGE that Penang debt has been reduced and that he took full credit of it. I find the statement misleading as the debt was exchanged for water assets as part of the federal water industry restructuring. It was agreed back then by KtK and a constitutional amendment was passed during KTK time. Thus any state including selangor which partake in the industry restructuring will definitely get their debts reduced. It’s part of the deal. Almost all state debts are water related.


  24. deadeagle
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 15:04:24

    Next time, maybe officer in audit dept will pay RM950 for a simple basic calculator, RM360 for a ream of A4 size paper, RM85 for a simple ruler, RM3,500 for a 17 inch computer monitor, RM990 for a simple computer printer ink, they learn fast too !


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