Lack of Accountability


December 31, 2013

Lack of Accountability is a major stumbling to Malaysia’s progress

by Tan Siok Choo@ww.thesundaily.my

Tan Siok ChooACCOUNTABILITY is an infrequently used word in Malaysian authorities’ lexicon. Regulators’ persistent refusal to determine who was responsible for a mishap is effectively a denial of accountability. If allowed to continue, this no-fault syndrome could stymie Malaysia’s progress.

Parts of buildings and flyovers sag, MySikap, a new online transaction system, generated chaos while Malaysian students fare poorly in international assessments.

Despite injuries to individuals, property damage, massive inconvenience to car owners and question marks about Malaysia’s education system, determining how and why all these reversals happened is still lacking.

Possibly the most egregious example of construction frailties is Serdang’s seven-year-old hospital. Since 2011, the hospital has suffered from seven instances of crumbling masonry.

On December 4 this year, the emergency ward’s ceiling fell, the second occurrence within a month. Five days later, a similar failure hit its staff quarters. A partial collapse also plagued the intensive care unit, maternity ward and the main lobby which suffered twice – first in January 2011 and again a year later.

Thanks to tremendous public pressure, the Health Ministry named Ranhill Sdn Bhd as the developer who built this hospital. Till today, the authorities have yet to publicly announce whether an investigation has been undertaken to explain why these mishaps happened and what action is being taken to prevent future recurrences.

On February 28 this year, part of a flyover in Cyberjaya tumbled.According to newspaper reports, the flyover was built by PKNS, completed in 2009 and handed to Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS). Denying the flyover was handed over to it, PLUS disclaims responsibility for the partial collapse.

On the issue of responsibility for the flyover, the authorities remained resoundingly silent.Terengganu has witnessed so many instances of crumbling construction that Kuala Terengganu MP and architect Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin says the state is now nicknamed “Terengganu Darul Runtuh”.

Incidents that have given the state this unofficial moniker include:

  • in June 2009, the ceiling of the RM292.9 million Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium broke while early this year, the steel structure propping up the roof fell;
  • in October 2009, the roof of the Masjid Kampung Batu Putih in Kerteh crumbled;
  • in May this year, the roof of Masjid Kampung Binjai Kertas in Hulu Terengganu gave way; and
  •  in September this year, the Kampung Tebauk mosque in Bukit Tunggal was similarly afflicted.

Despite the plethora of construction woes bedevilling Terengganu, state and federal officials have remained eloquently silent.

Another eyebrow-raising event was the shambles caused by the new MySikap portal that prevented thousands of consumers last month from registering car ownership, renewing their driving licences and undertaking other car-related transactions.

Initially, a top official from the Road Transport Department announced the setting up of an independent panel to assess MySikap’s problems. Several days later, he reversed this decision without offering any explanation.

Although he proposed a system upgrade and suggested the portal could be stabilised by using additional servers loaned by IBM, will these proposals prevent another mishap without launching an investigation into why MySikap failed?

Emulating the Transport Ministry is their counterparts from the Education Ministry. Admittedly, the latter has announced their determination to improve Malaysian students’ dismal performance in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

No Education Ministry official has explained the performance gap between local and international assessments. Without this root cause analysis, how will these officials know whether Malaysia’s education system needs a revamp?

In the recent PMR examinations, 7.33% of students obtained Grade A in all subjects. In contrast, only 2% of our students were the highest achievers in the 2011 TIMSS and 1.3% in the 2012 PISA, Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang claims.

Yet another troubling issue – why was Malaysia ranked 52nd among 65 countries in the PISA assessment while Vietnam attained a surprisingly lofty ranking of 17th?

Differences in the marks obtained by Vietnamese and Malaysian students aren’t a fissure but a chasm. Vietnamese students scored 511 for maths, 509 for reading and 521 for science while their Malaysian counterparts’ results were nearly 100 points lower – with 421, 424 and 425 respectively.

Accountability doesn’t mean indulging in a blame game. Without determining why the performance of Malaysian students have stagnated and possibly declined, will the authorities’ proposed remedial action be effective?

This is akin to a doctor prescribing a proposed course of treatment without undertaking a biopsy to determine whether a growth is benign or malignant.

A starting point for any improvement must begin with an understanding of what went wrong. Next is determining why the failure happened. Only then can the process of renewal and rebuilding begin.Acknowledgement of a failure is the essential first step towards progress.

17 thoughts on “Lack of Accountability

  1. Dato
    In the Malaysian context, the word does not exist in the local vocabulary. No ability to account for the blunders etc, in whatever form that are reported in any media eg AG’s report. Only lately with a bigger opposition members in parliament are the public being exposed to wrong doings that previously were not made public. Response provided are not convincing enough and no accountability is ever heard of for the roofs collapse, failure of computer schools, project cost over runs, financial scandals (oh the list is endless to quote)
    The fish rots at the top so unless the leaders show the way to be accountable for their wrong deeds, what can one expect from the rest?

  2. Kalau sri perdana roboh baru depa akan siasat. Accountability, responsibility etc don’t exist in these people’s vocabulary.

  3. This is typical UMNO style government response, an elegant silence. They are not bothered about accountability or public out cry. All they are interested is to get their commission.

  4. Where got accountability in Malaysia, PM Najib goes overseas to watch the sunrise in Sydney and onwards to watch the sunrise in Las Vegas with FLOM, over the New Year and there is no official announcement his office or the official media !!! . Picked it up from UMNO blogger Kadir Jasin’s write inTHE SCRIBE for this piece of news . Imagine the IGP says the country will be facing REVOLUTION at Dataran Merdeka over the New Year and the PM goes on an unannounced romantic fling , So much for ACCONTABILITY !!!!

  5. First, all these special Commissions such as the MACC, PEMANDU and the like should be abolished. The problems have been kicked to them but they do not have the overall information that the Ministries and Departments have to investigate. In fact, they are dependent on them to investigate and prosecute. I keep saying this we have to go back to the Heads of Ministry and Department to implement the FGO and the GO couple with the Auditor General playing his role of not only auditing governments accounts but to make that all important value audit as and when necessary. Government Ministries and departments cannot spend just because the allocation of funds are there.

  6. In any other country without the oil resources or the productive minorities, Malaysia would already be a basket case financially given the unaccountability. We will be for sure once the oil is gone.

  7. What is the Opposite/Antonym of Accountability in this case?
    Carte blanche, unregulated, lawless, but also undisciplined, irresponsible, immoral and indifferent.
    That’s UMNOb mode of existence. But all this doesn’t have any effect on their followers. Why is that? Deification and veneration of false gods.

  8. While the rakyat gathers to protest, the PM says I hear you, only to find out that he heard them from Sydney Australia…. what a forked-tongue insincere leader… went there via commercial flights I presume?

  9. Its INCREDIBLE what we have somone who was a former high-flying CEO including a top bank and advise people to be thirty and spend prudently. Malaysian savings rate has been RISING and EVEN THE MALAYS have rapidly rising savings rate – the last few years growth has been driven by investments and savings with some bouts of consumption nothing unusual. What makes it unusual is the rise in personal and govt debt that came with it.

    For a top CEO and also a bank too to come out to say that consumption is the problem when the data is against it, its screams bloody EXCUSES, OUT OF TOUCH and HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING – just taking care of themselves.

  10. Malaysian must travel now when they get the opportunity. Otherwise when are you going to get a chance to live in all those luxury condos our citizens and GLCs are buying overseas. Long Live Malaysia

  11. And this is happening at a time when there is so mush debate initiated at the behest of the PR on the issue of Financial Prudence. Rings a bell. But where is the cat?

  12. iT IS UNDENIABLE TO SAY THAT TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ARE THE KEY WORDS IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.

    wITHOUT SUCH, CORRUPTION MOVES IN WITH EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO ENABLE OFFICIALS AND THOSE IN AUTHORITY TO TO PLAY THEIR GAMES.

    iT’S SO UNFORTUNATE THAT NUMEROUS ISSUES HAPPENED IN OUR COUNTRY WITHOUT ANYONE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY LIKE THE HOSPITAL THAT COLLAPSED SEVERAL TIMES.

    OUR COUNTRY’S SYSTEMS OF DOING BUSINESS ARE FAR WAY OUT NOT CONFORMING THE CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS OF THE COUNTRY. ONE HAS NO FEAR TO GO AGAINST THE RULES AS LONG AS LONG ONE KNOWS HOW TO PLAY THE GAME WHERE THE REFEREE IS ON YOUR SIDE.

  13. We are all white in the head as good as Tuanku Azlan or `Mission Impossible’ Jim Phelps

    YET we lose to the likes of UMNOs from MM to NTR! From `82, we were put on the global Map and simultaneously hoodwinked with policies and projects which NOT only enriched the PM and his family UMNOs’ cronies and rent seekers.

    Now from 1987 we are winded by a couple who knows no remosrse, pilfering and raiding the nation’s coffers at will!

    Yeaterday TURUN show of force is NOT up to mark. A handful of U students, activists and NGOs when there are more than 27 million who should have defied this corrupt and sinful Government. His New Year message was enough to make us vomit blood. He has been well-mentore. BY a voracious and common scumbag! How else to explain his glib remarks of `not populist’ and `a responsible man!’

    A Godforsaken man no less – all the wasted jet trips of Umrahs and seemingly piety – NO salvation nor redemption of for this PM who will die accursed and held in disdain, for the wimp of a Head of Government. BY Islamic standards – he deserved to be `Hudud, potong’ wherever he deserved to be `potong!’

    The hundreds of millions siphoned and squandered, the hundreds of billions spiraling National Debts and the RM trillions illegal funds spirited.

    These past week, we have been shown one Razi bin Rosmah, who has the gall to claim he was Najib’s son, crawling out from a Hollywood rock, with US$ 333.5 to his name!

    Accountability? Lets see what this man of `Silence Is Golden’ motto has to say about this now. sure we must thank Raja Aziz Nong chik too, for his well compensated / deafening?) silence all those 26 years!

    Wonder who else is bosom buddy with Jho Low, the 1MDB man? Coincidentally, the Sg.Besi Property could be the hocked asset too, going by LJ modus Operandi!

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