August 15, 2013
Task Force for Everything and yet No Outcome/Action
by R. Nadeswaran @ http://www.sundaily.my
HERE’S a new cure-all phrase which the creators believe will cast a magic spell on those who come across it. That phrase, if used on certain sections of the community, will compel them to understand and accept that something is being done and a solution has been found.
That phrase is called “task force” and it is increasingly being used, more often than at the drop of a hat. Is there a problem? Then, just utter the words “we are setting up a task force” and that would make the populace have faith in the system. Really?
That’s what the authorities have been doing crisis after crisis but not getting the desired results. Of course, the whole idea is that over time, Malaysians tend to forget the real issues as new ones come to the forefront.
A task force can be described as a “temporary group of people formed to carry out a specific mission or project, or to solve a problem that requires a multi-disciplinary approach.”
But in Malaysia, we even have “super task forces” which supplant the plain and ordinary task force.
In 2009, in the wake of a special report by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and legal firm Skrine, the government appointed an 11-member super task force, headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, to restore the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project and identify measures for its development.
The task force was among others required to determine the type of misconduct or criminal element on the part of individuals or entities involved in the project and recommend actions to be taken against them.
He said the task force would submit reports to the government within six months, and from time to time, would call in the parties concerned to seek their explanation.
It would also assess PKA and PKFZ’s financial situation, prepare a restructuring plan for the PKFZ, formulate business models for the PKA and PKFZ, and recommend strategic plans to attract investors.
Mohd Sidek retired last year and that’s the last we heard of the super task force. We don’t know for sure if reports were submitted to the government, but we do know that no one was summoned to appear before the panel.
Let’s look at some of the more popular task forces set up:
- Early this year, Bank Negara Malaysia set up a high level multi-agency special task force to reduce illicit financial flows. The task force comprised the Attorney-General’s Chambers, customs, police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, immigration and the bank. Its role is to spearhead more effective coordination and collaboration among key law enforcement authorities in the country as well as between local and international enforcement agencies to mitigate illicit activity and financial flows.
- A special task force was set up in December 2012 to monitor all hill slope zone development built before 2010 with extra attention given to embankments and retaining walls. The Public Works Department was to work closely with the Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) and City Hall to create a hazard map to identify all dangerous hill slope zones in the city.
- A special task force was set up in 2012 to ensure that Singaporean companies which relocate or set up shop in Iskandar Malaysia would not pose a threat, but complement local SMEs. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said while the government was encouraging investments from Singapore companies, the local SMEs could rest assured that this move would not put their businesses at risk.
- The Special Implementation Task Force (cabinet committee on the Indian community, Prime Minister’s Department) was established in June 2010 to monitor and strengthen delivery and implementation of public sector services and programmes.
- A special task force to be set up under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would work with the Pahang government to tackle the widespread ravage of Cameron Highlands.
- The government set up a national task force last week to look into the implementation of recommendations made by Suhakam in its national inquiry report concerning land rights of indigenous peoples. The task force will be led by Integrity Institute of Malaysia chairman Mohd Tap Salleh and made up of government and NGO representatives from peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
Now in the wake of the shootings and upheaval caused, more task forces are being set up. The illicit outflows continue, landslides caused by hillside development are taking place and illegal land clearing is being carried out.
Will these task forces end up like scores of other such groups of the past? Will the task forces be transparent or will they sweep everything under the carpet? Will we, the rakyat, ever know the truth?
R. Nadeswaran is amused at the pace in which task forces are being set up and wonders if they produce the desired results. Comments: email@example.com