I have yet to meet the Dang Wangi officers (Commercial Crime) due my earlier commitment. I will update you after the meeting. Meanwhile, writer Kim Quek describes the 600 million scandal as ‘blantant corruption” in his letter to editor of Malaysiakini.
Contractors RM600 mil windfall blatant corruptionKim Quek
Dec 5, 06 4:54pm
I refer to the malaysiakini report How to spend RM600 million in 6 weeks.Did Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi commit an act of corruption when he announced the impromptu decision to Umno delegates on the eve of the 57th Umno general assembly to award RM3 million of small contracts to each of the 191 parliamentary constituencies where Umno had a division?The answer is a clear-cut ‘yes’ as the ingredients necessary to establish a corrupt act are all present.
On Nov 13, Pak Lah announced in a closed-door briefing to the delegates that a surprise year-end bonus of RM600 million would be dished out in the form of small contracts covering the whole country except
Sarawak (where Umno had no divisions).
On the same day, Deputy Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed issued a letter to the Public Works (JKR) chief asking him to execute Pak Lah’s announcement of the RM600 million allocation, which was to be divided into RM 3 million for each of the parliamentary constituencies (totaling 191,
Sarawak excluded). Mohd Zin asked that all district engineers consult local leaders to ascertain the projects, all of which were to be completed within two months.
Following this letter, JKR issued guidelines as to how this RM3 million for each parliamentary constituency was to be spent. These guidelines were that the contracts were meant for Class F contractors (who were all bumiputeras), each entitled to one contract only, amount to be no more than RM200,000, works to start within three days and to be completed in 2006, payment by end January 2007, projects to comprise minor works on roads, drains, pipes, electrical wiring, renovating buildings, etc.
It is clear that this RM600 million year-end bonus is intended for Umno grassroots leaders, most of whom are Class F contractors living on government contracts. If this is not the case, then how can Pak Lah explain the fact that the state of
Sarawak, which needs this kind of spending most but which has no Umno presence, is completely left out of this scheme?
Further, district engineers were specifically asked to consult local leaders to ascertain the contracts. Who can these local leaders be if not Umno’s divisional leaders in each of the 191 parliamentary constituencies? (surely they can t be PAS, DAP or PKR leaders?)
Moreover, the unorthodox manner with which this RM600 million was announced befits more an emergency relief for a catastrophe such as that occasioned by a major tsunami or an 8.0 Richter scale earthquake rather than for routine petty works. For the announcement came out of the blue, and the pattern of distribution of spending seemed artificially carved out for bonus-giving purpose, not for maintaining local infrastructures.
At the press conference held after the closed-door meeting with Umno delegates on Nov 13, Pak Lah justified this RM600 million allocation by saying that it was needed to top up the previous allocation of RM1.5 billion which he said was nearly depleted. He said ‘we have identified other minor projects for the rural community.
This claim was, however, contradicted by Deputy Rural Development Minister Zainal Abidin Osman in Parliament on Nov 15. Answering a query from PAS member of parliament Salahuddin Ayub, Zainal Abidin said that his ministry had not been informed of this RM600 million for projects in rural areas.
Is it not strange that the deputy minister had no knowledge of this fund which was intended to be spent for projects under his ministry on an emergency basis? Shouldn’t such urgent projects have been presented in the first place by the Rural Development Ministry to the Treasury and the cabinet for urgent approval, before making the announcement by the minister for rural development (not the prime minister)?
Did the PM or the rural development minister know what these urgent projects were? Obviously not, otherwise the deputy minister of works would not have asked the district engineers to find out the answers from the local leaders .
What a strange way of throwing away massive public funds – the PM asking 3,000 to 5,000 Class F contractors to finish spending all the RM600 million in the record speed of six weeks, without the relevant ministries knowing what these supposedly urgent projects were!
Surely this will be a big feast for the thousands of lucky cronies who will be simultaneously picked based on political connections and given bonanzas free of competitive pricing, as such tight schedules of implementation would preclude any open tender.
And since this is public money, to be used on public projects, is it also not strange that the decision was not announced to the public but was hurriedly conveyed to Umno delegates in a closed-door meeting on the eve of a Umno national assembly?
It is not so, if one understands that the impending party assembly was no ordinary annual assembly, but a crucial one in which the tussle for power between the former and the incumbent party leaders might play out. Knowing how deeply ingrained was the tradition of money politics in the Umno hierarchy, what better way was there to ensure a hassle-free convention for the incumbent leader than to declare an instant bumper bonus to all and sundry?
While Pak Lah and his power clique may congratulate themselves on the smooth sailing he had in consolidating his support during the party assembly, which was contributed in no small way by this pecuniary measure, does the party president realise the high price he has to pay in securing this support through such dishonourable conduct?
In the first place, there is no way he could free himself from the taint of corruption in the face of such glaring incriminating evidences. There was the motive and the benefit received, which was enhancing support within Pak Lah’s camp while neutralising potential opposition from Mahathir loyalists. And there was the unmistakable abuse of authority, breaching all established regulations and laws in dispensing public funds, much of which were wasted through inflated pricing and non-optimal utilisation.
We call this kind of unlawful practice money politics, abuse of power and corruption – the very evils that Pak Lah pledged to free this nation from when he took over the reign from his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In any democracy, such serious breach of law by the chief executive of a nation would have caused instant public uproar, with the mass media relentlessly pursuing the culprit, and law enforcement agencies such as the anti-corruption body, attorney-general and the police moving in to investigate for possible offences. Such a series of events will most likely lead to the resignation of the culprit, followed by prosecution.
Nothing of this sort happened in
Malaysia. As usual, our mass media (save the Internet) and law enforcing agencies steadfastly play the ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ game, in spite of police reports being made. The double standards in the implementation of law is ever present everywhere – one for the ruling elite, and another for the rest.
This incident serves as a stern reminder that the rule of law is still seriously impaired under the present political leadership, and that we are a far cry from the day when we can call our country a democracy.
For those die-hard who are hoping against hope that Pak Lah will bring us the much yearned for reforms, and who still insist that he must given more time to fulfill his pledges, the present episode is good food for thought.