October 22, 2009
Anwar: Dr Pornthip’s testimony very grave
by S Pathmawathy (October 21, 2009)
The explosive testimony by Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest today was not surprising but nevertheless grave, said Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar said that Pornthip’s statement that there was an 80 percent probability that Teoh’s death was homicide and 20 percent that he took his own life was startling.
“Although the revelations were not surprising as I was suspicious of statements from the other pathologists, I did not think it would be as bad as this,” he said.
Anwar, who is also the Permatang Pauh PKR parliamentarian, said: “I hope the responsible parties, including the judge will decide justly. The testimony of Pornthip cannot be taken lightly because she is a leading forensics expert in the region.”
At the inquest today, Pornthip said that Teoh could have been strangled before his fatal fall from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam as there were marks around Teoh’s neck that indicated such a possibility.
Furthermore, she pointed out that Teoh’s skull fracture was not typical of an injury from a fall.
On another matter, Anwar said Pakatan will study in detail the recently released Auditor-General’s report.
“We are, however, proud of the positive reports on the Selangor and Penang governments as compared to the major blunders in BN run states,” he said.
Pakatan parliamentarians, meanwhile, called on the government to take action against ministers for poor management of funds which had resulted in excess expenditure.
Petaling Jaya Utara DAP MP Tony Pua said the 2008 Auditor-General’s report is littered with rampant and unapproved over-expenditure and cost overruns by government departments and agencies.
Among the glaring examples were the purchase of equipment at wildly inflated prices by the Human Resources Ministry, like the Miri Training Tinstitute (ILP) when it paid nearly 3,000 percent above market price for a RM990 pole platform, and the Kepala Batas ILP which paid 800 percent above market price for a RM1,500 cabinet,” he said.
Pua said the lack of strict measures to curb excess spending has created an additional fiscal strain on the government’s coffers which may in turn hamper efforts to stimulate the economy.‘A mockery of the Budget Debate‘
“What is the point of debating the budget for approval if it keeps getting overshot?” he asked.
Citing the national audit report, he pointed out more discrepancies, for example, the purchase of 6.86 hectares of land in Balakong by Prasarana, a company managed by the finance ministry, cost 40 percent more than the price recommended by an independent valuer, which is RM8.8 million more.
“Prasarana paid RM31.03 million despite the RM22.17 million valuation conducted (and) the piece of land is yet to be put to use,” he said.
“The education ministry paid RM57,493 for landscaping supplies and works which cost between 470 percent to 800 percent more than the highest prices offered in another quotation sourced by the Auditor-General’s office,” he added.
Pua (right) also highlighted the lack of financial discipline and abuses since 2000, where the government’s operational expenditure had always exceeded the budget passed by the Parliament by five percent.
Several ministries named in the report were the fnance ministry which exceeded its budget by RM772 million; the health ministry by RM690 million; and the defence ministry by RM658 million.
“(The excesses) often makes a complete mockery of the annual Budget debate by the country’s legislature,” he said.
Pua stressed that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also the finance minister must take “concrete action to stem and check the increasingly endemic financial discipline in government departments.
“Officers who are unable to comply to expenditure limits… must face serious action such as sacking or suspension to ensure mistake are not repeated,” he said.
Pua added that Najib has to redeem the credibility of Budget 2010 by introducing measures against the reckless disregard by the government departments.