Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons


August 16, 2018

Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons

by Dr Amar-Singh HSS

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Dr Mahathir and the Malaysian Civil Service

These Civil Servants pledge to feather their own nest

We need to get rid of the culture of censuring those in the civil service who speak up when they see wrong being done.

I found the courage to write this after the recent strong words from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the civil service. He encouraged those in the civil service not to blindly follow instructions, and to speak up if there are wrongdoings, saying he will support those who have been “tortured”.

There has been a long-standing culture of victimisation in the civil service. Many of us join the civil service to serve the public. Some of us have better financial prospects elsewhere but choose the civil service because it offers us an unparalleled opportunity to serve the people of our nation.

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Top Goons of the Malaysian Civil Service with the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Unfortunately, as Mahathir points out, the civil service is now populated with those who are self-serving, to put it mildly. Over the years, I have seen people take advantage of their position to enrich themselves or abuse their power, so much so that the prevalent culture becomes “keep your head down and follow instructions”, even if things are wrong.

Those of us who attempt to speak up when we see wrong, or make the necessary corrections in the system, are often censured, at times with measures detrimental to our career. We are constantly reminded that we belong to “the government service”.

Allow me to share an example from my own life. I recently retired after being in the civil service for more than 35 years. In April last year, I received a show-cause letter saying I had brought shame or detriment (memalukan dan memburukkan) to my ministry and the civil service. I was also informed verbally that action was being considered at the highest echelons of the organisation to sack me without pension.

You may ask what I did to bring such wrath upon myself. What prompted this response was a tweet I had made, stating that we are “civil servants, not government servants”. I went on to say that it is “the taxes of the people that pay our wages”.

You may say that what I tweeted was factual and “mild”, but remember that this was in April 2017, before the election, when fear was prevalent and many were being censured. My tweet was forwarded by “cybertroopers” to the highest level of the organisation, and I was issued a show-cause letter.

It was a traumatic learning experience for me. I found that despite many years of work and bringing change/pride to health services (I received a number of international awards), no one was prepared to openly stand up for me. I tried meeting the senior civil service management, but was unsuccessful.

In the end, the previous health minister Dr S Subramaniam was kind enough to act on my behalf when I approached him. Even then, I still received a warning letter saying I had been found to have brought shame/detriment to the organisation, and was warned about future action.

Why do I bring this up? If the civil service is to have any hope, we need to get rid of the petty victimisation of staff and offer safe opportunities for them to speak up when they see wrong being done. The Regulations for Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) [Peraturan-Peraturan Pegawai Awam (Kelakuan dan Tatatertib) 1993] have an overreaching “Peraturan 19 (1)” about civil servants speaking up. It was put in place to protect government policy, but is also used to silence those who speak up. It can be and is used arbitrarily, as was the case with me.

I hope the institutional reforms committee can look at this section and consider with the government an amendment to focus on government policy, not on personal statements. If there is no safe platform to express the wrongs that are conducted in the civil service, a mechanism outside the system, then many will not dare to support the necessary change for reform in our civil service. Even now as I speak up about the way I was treated (and it is frightening when you go through it), I have some fear that action can be taken against me after retirement.

If you wonder why sometimes there is low morale in the civil service, remember how I was treated for making a simple, true statement. Remember the lack of support within the system for staff who speak up.

It is time to bring back a civil service that we can be proud of. This requires a radical change in how we appoint leaders in the service and how much we encourage constructive dissent (voiced disagreement and discussion on policies and decisions). There is a lot of dead wood and many self-serving individuals that need to be removed, but there are still many who want to serve our beloved nation.

I hope the civil service can be found committed to ensuring the best services for our public and nation and not that of individuals.

Dr Amar-Singh HSS is a senior consultant paediatrician.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Straight and crooked reporting in the new Malaysia


August 4, 2018

Straight and crooked reporting in the new Malaysia

by Cogito Ergo Sum
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COMMENT | At the start of each academic year in the Journalism 101 course, I ask my students if they want to be objective or fair in their reporting and writing. Inevitably, most, if not all, answer that they want to be objective.

But like everyone else, I point out, we are subjective. Our opinions are coloured by lenses stained by culture, religion, race and social prejudices, as we grow in an increasingly confusing world where the social order is being altered almost daily.

Some point out that being objective requires one to be ‘fair’ in our judgement calls. I ask them if they can ever be objective about their children, the faiths of others and the politics of the day. And there is a silence in the class.

Being fair needs work. To be fair requires an effort to treat people and stories appropriately and fairly. A lot of work has to go into attempting to be fair.

It means going out of the way to ensure that both sides are given an equal opportunity to give their version of the story. It also means that if you give 10 paragraphs to one side, you must give the same number of paragraphs of the story to the other side.

It also means diligent checking of facts given by both sides. You have to dig and search and countercheck. That is what old-timers in the profession used to do.

A senior editor once told me that in the old days, when there was a gap in the story, reporters were told to find out. Then came the era of the computer and the instructions were to let the computer find out. Now, the instructions are, leave it out.

As you read a story with vital facts left out, you get the distinct feeling that something is not right.

After a while, one becomes desensitised to that feeling. And the readers that have been fed these lopsided articles and stories are now ‘educated’ to think that that is the new ‘fair’ reporting.

Loyalty rewarded, not professionalism

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So often in the past, newspapers and television stations have only published and broadcasted one side of the story. The other side is left to sue for the truth, and the number of successful suits is testimony that fair reporting is no longer part of our journalistic culture.

For 60-odd years, save for a few just after independence, journalism in Malaysia has been about regurgitating and processing official pronouncements and making the speaker or writer look good.

Journalists were rewarded by the political masters of the day with titles, tenures, and wages that were simply outrageous.

As professionals, we seem to have forgotten that we have a code of ethics and rules of language that ensure the art of storytelling and reporting is fair, clear and leaves little confusion.

A doyen of the profession described the work of the reporter as shedding light on a subject without altering it. That description has been violated today by the fact that we can now shine multi-coloured lights on a subject and change its hues with language and latitude in our attitude to the facts.

I will cite an example of how the use of language can subtly alter the perception of readers from a pro-Israel media outlet.

“Defence forces fired on rioting crowds in Palestine today.”

The use of the word “rioting” immediately justifies action by the authorities. Because the crowds rioted, it was justified to fire at them.

But we do not know the reason for the riots as yet. A neutral way of telling the story is to remove the verb “rioting”. And now you have “Defence forces fired on crowds in Palestine today.’That leaves the story uncoloured.

We have become artists in colouring our stories in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

The stunning victory by Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election has given the media and its practitioners a hard jolt.

The mainstream media is now confused as to how to play this new game. After almost six decades of subservience and obsequious behaviour towards the BN and its components, journalists in these organisations have forgotten what it means to be a professional.

To think critically in the old days meant that you had a very short tenure and lifespan in the mainstream media.

Giving Najib too much space?

Now, the media seem to be attempting to report stories with a sense of fairness, without colour or clarity. Mainstream media outelts are still owned by political entities of the old BN. And fear that what they did to others may be done unto them keeps them in check, to a certain extent.

Utusan Malaysia – which to many was simply a rabid rabble-rouser that would not think twice about using race, religion and culture to further its masters’ bigoted cause – has merely been told that no one is subscribing to their thinking.

Subscriptions to the paper by public schools and varsities are being phased out by the Harapan government. Some reports say that the new government is reconsidering subscriptions to other newspapers as well.

Equally confused are some of the alternative media. From being an avenue for the opposition to air their views, they believe that by giving the BN leadership, in particular, former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, a disproportionate amount of space in their publications, they are being fair.

It is still true that a man is innocent until proven guilty. Imagine if Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippine dictator who was overthrown by a popular uprising, was given the same space as Najib in their papers?

GE-14 was a turning point in Malaysian history. Malaysia was at the point of becoming an Orwellian state, but against all odds, the people overthrew the grand old coalition of BN.

Najib, as head of BN, represented all that was wrong with the old regime. The rakyat had had enough of his autocratic way of getting things done by crushing the will of the people with debts and taxes.

He became the butt of jokes and the parody of cartoonists who were persecuted because they were the voice of public dissent.

Being fair means giving the other fellow an equal chance to rebut an allegation. Najib now has that chance in a court of law after being charged for various crimes against the law and the people.

A dangerous thing

Najib seems to have been somewhat abandoned by the former mainstream media outlets, some out of fear of repercussions, others from sheer embarrassment. He is a master of the game. He has skilfully portrayed himself as a victim of politics. No one really believes that drivel, save for some diehard fans.

The danger in giving Najib space, however little, is that he is quite capable of whipping up support for his lost cause at the expense of the ground Harapan has won among the people.

Now, it seems that Harapan is responding and reacting to Najib’s inane accusations and statements rather than being proactive and restrained in their responses. Restrained, because now they are the government and there is a pending case for them to show the evidence in a court of justice.

Giving Najib too much space is a dangerous thing. To do so is not being fair to the people who threw him out.

He seems to have found an unlikely ally in his former nemesis, the alternative media. And he is cunning enough to exploit the space given to the hilt.

And to my students who may ask if this article is fair? No. Because like everyone, I am subjective.


COGITO ERGO SUM is a Malaysiakini subscriber.

10 Things to do for Malaysian People


August 2, 2018

10 Things to do for Malaysian People

by P. Gunasegaram

http://www.malaysiakini.com

QUESTION TIME | All governments routinely claim that they are there for the people and that they will take care of the interests of the people. But is that what they really do? Or do the leaders forget about the plight of the rakyat and focus on other things such as consolidating their power?

 Image result for Mahathir and his new Cabinet

To do their jobs properly, the government needs to prioritise the rakyat so that the most important gets done first and the others follow on from there.

To remind Harapan, in the midst of all the controversies which have emerged post-May 9, here is a list of 10 things they should be prioritising.

1. Restore our democratic rights

What we need going forward is a full restoration of our democratic rights as envisaged in the original constitution of Aug 31, 1957, nothing less.

That entails removal of all oppressive new laws under the Najib regime such as the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), Anti-Fake News Act 2018 and National Security Council Act 2016.

It should also include archaic ones such as the Sedition Act 1948, the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA), the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA), the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) and serious overhaul of the Penal Code to remove ancient laws such as criminal defamation, etc.

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People Power dethroned UMNO-BN

After what we have been through, it must be crystal clear to everyone that to remove a corrupt government and one that is not meeting the legitimate aspirations of the rakyat, there must always be a means of check and balance.

Successive BN governments, including those under Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously, have eroded the legal system and undermined the laws protecting individual rights. These have to be rectified forthwith.

As long as these laws exist in the statute books, unscrupulous leaders can use it to oppress the people yet again. It is a matter of regret that not enough is being done in this regard, as one of the key promises of Harapan.

2. Demarcate lines between executive, judiciary and Parliament

If necessary, introduce legislation to do this. For too long, there has been executive interference in the judicial system, even before the time of Najib Abdul Razak.

Judicial independence all but died in 1987 following Mahathir’s interventions to suspend Federal Court judges.

The only recourse the public has against an oppressive executive is the judicial system. For this, prosecution and investigation too must be independent of government.

To ensure that the Police toe the line and follow the law (by the way, the Police come up tops in surveys of which government department is the most corrupt), an independent commission of investigation for police misconduct needs to be set up.

No matter how much the police maintain that oppressive legislation is necessary, they must follow the law – police brutality in detention is well documented.

3. Redraw constituencies to correct gerrymandering

There can be no argument that the will of the population is reflected in a one-man, one-vote system. However, when you have constituencies several times larger than others, the intention is negated because less people vote for one representative.

Keep differences to a maximum of say 15 percent between constituencies – that will be fair to everyone.

4. Do something concrete about corruption 

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It is not money that is the root of evil, but corruption in getting the money. So, lay the ground rules – open tenders, no patronage, accountability, an independent MACC reporting to Parliament, no cronyism, contracts no longer under the OSA, and 101 other things.

If current laws are not sufficient to bring those who clearly live beyond their means to account, enact new ones which will clearly require them to account for their assets, forfeit them if they can’t and charge them accordingly.

And why this strange reluctance now for all ministers, MPs and state assemblypersons to make a public declaration of their assets? What are they afraid of?

5. For the long term, do something about education

Black shoes only hide the dirt, they do nothing else. Is that the priority of the Education Ministry?

Without a long-term plan for education, the rot in the country cannot be stopped. Quality education has to start with headmasters and headmistresses and teachers – upgrading their quality.

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Our education has to move with the times, and improving English must be part of the agenda. Rural children want to learn English so that their chances of succeeding increase.

Education is too important to be left to chance and to people who don’t seem to have a clue about what they are doing.

It is definitely not just about whether the Unified Examination Certification (UEC) qualification is recognised. It is about preparing a new generation of people for the workplace, moving us up the economic ladder to higher value-added activities, greater opportunities and a better life for everyone.

6. Have a coherent economic plan

It’s all good and well to blame the previous government for everything, including falsely accusing them of having run up a debt of RM1 trillion.

But what is your programme for the economy? How are you going to achieve economic growth and ensure that it is achieved? How are you going to ensure that this is distributed among as many people as possible?

How will you ensure that the socio-economic position of everyone improves rapidly in line with the large amount of resources this country has? What are some of the specific measures you will be taking?

You can give subsidies, increase your spending for the public, build better infrastructure, etc, only if you increase revenue. How are you going to do that?

7. Set targets and make them public

Setting targets alone is not enough, there has to be someone monitoring them. Unfortunately, the new government dismantled the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, or Pemandu, and summarily discontinued their use.

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Despite all the vituperative criticism levelled against Pemandu, it played a major role in economic development under the previous regime. First, it helped all government departments and agencies, including even the police and others to set key performance indices or KPIs which they must achieve and then a system for monitoring this.

Thus, there was a clear, articulated and measurable path to achieving developed status, which not only included income criteria but socio-economic criteria as well.

Out of the labs that were set up and the discussions that arose, a number of useful initiatives arose for increasing economic growth while at the same time improving the quality of life. This was one of the better things that the previous government did and it contributed to better economic growth and living standards.

While it has disbanded Pemandu, the new government must come up with a similar or better system of setting KPIs among all the ministries and the key government agencies. Otherwise, there is going to be a lot of talk but no action plan which is measurable and can be monitored.

The manifesto is a good starting point – set targets and state how you are going to achieve them, and monitor them.

One of the things the government should consider here is a multi-agency government committee such as the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) of old.

Such committees are typically headed by the Chief Secretary and comprise key people from other ministries, especially secretaries-general of economy-related ministries, the central bank governor and others.

Civil servants from various departments studied all major proposals thoroughly and made their recommendations to the NDPC, which then made a final decision. Seldom were their recommendations overturned in the past.

The NDPC was disbanded under the previous Mahathir regime and politicians decided whether projects were viable or not and whether they were desirable.

8. Consult and reach intraparty consensus

Harapan is a coalition of parties which have common aspirations. And in the spirit of consensus and consultation, they chose a Prime Minister, Mahathir, who will run the show until Anwar Ibrahim takes over.

This is the new Malaysia – consensus and consultation should be agreed upon at least at the supreme council level of the party and at the cabinet level of government.

Prime ministerial prerogative must only be exercised if there is a deadlock, much like a casting vote by the chair of a board. Majority views should prevail because the prime minister comes from a minority party.

No other committee should usurp the Cabinet, which should be the ultimate body for deciding on policy matters and must take joint responsibility for decisions taken. There should be no yes-men in the cabinet and everyone should speak their minds openly without fear of retribution.

9. Allow for dissenting views and discussion

This must be freely allowed within Harapan and within parties in the Harapan coalition, otherwise you will see a group of nodding yes-men who will fawn over the emperor’s clothes even when he is naked.

The room to criticise, make suggestions, to discuss and debate must be there. The prime minister does not know everything and must take advice and encourage opposite views to come out so that all angles can be scrutinised before a final decision is taken. Do we really want another national car? Is that going to be pushed through via prime ministerial prerogative?

I can’t stand, and certainly cannot understand, this call to let the government do its job without fair criticism and feedback. Look what prime ministerial prerogative got us in the past.

Any government worth its salt and truly interested in representing the rakyat and having its interests as its highest aims, instead of the leaders’ own interests, must be unambiguously receptive to constructive criticism and obliged to explain their policies and decisions so that the public understands it. That’s what transparency, good governance and accountability is about.

10. Be humane and fair in your decisions

Finally, don’t overdo things when you want to try and paint a black picture of the previous government.

Don’t tar and feather everyone. There are many people, including many top civil servants, and heads/boards of government-linked companies who have made a real contribution to the country.

Do not denigrate their contributions, do not make light of them, do not label them as corrupt unless you have evidence. If you have evidence, charge them.

There are many people in government who are professional and interested in doing a good job in the service of the nation. Use current resources, which are not corrupt and which are capable; acknowledge them.

Do not run roughshod over innocent human beings in your haste to put down everything the previous government has done. I dare say the politicians associated with previous BN governments over a long period of time are more corrupt than the civil servants, the vast majority of whom have had no opportunity for large-scale corruption in the way politicians have had all these years.

All Malaysians hope that Harapan can once and for all kill political corruption, the most insidious form of corruption there is because it leads to all other forms of corruption. As they say, the fish rots from the head.


This is the sixth and final part on a series of articles on Malaysia post-GE14.

Part 1: Mahathir’s patently unfair cabinet

Part 2: Did Mahathir win the general election?

Part 3: Do we really need a council of elders?

Part 4: Proton, Khazanah, Malaysia Inc and Mahathir

Part 5: Here’s how Khazanah can spread its wealth

Part 6: 10 things Harapan should do going forward

P GUNASEGARAM says the greatest challenge this government has is of getting rid of corruption, patronage and cronyism within their own ranks. If they can do that, the rest is easy. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

End Outrageous “Double Dipping” By Top Malaysian Civil Servants and GLC Executives


June 4, 2018

End Outrageous “Double Dipping” By Top Malaysian Civil Servants and GLC Executives

by Dr. M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

The revelation by Transport Minister Anthony Loke that the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) Chairman Abdullah Ahmad earns about RM85K a month, while a shocker, is not a secret. It is a long-held practice, and he is not alone. Far from it!

This practice proliferated under Najib, one of the many manifestations of his cash-is-king schemes to buy the loyalty of senior public officials. He of course received much more in return through their loyalty and cooperation, as evidenced by the loot hauled from his private residences after he was booted out of office.

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 Chief Secretary to the Malaysian Government, Dr. Ali Hamsa

Prime Minister Mahathir, who earns less than a quarter of what that Mavcom Chairman gets, has ordered Chief Secretary Ali Hamsa to review the remunerations of top public officials as well as heads of GLCs and statutory bodies.

There is no need for such a review. Instead, Mahathir should just ban them from having extra income beyond their salaries. They are being paid to devote their time and effort exclusively to their current positions. Theirs is not a 9-5 job; they have no business assuming added responsibilities except in an ex officio capacity. For that they already have generous allowances to cover the expenses incurred, as with traveling and lodging.

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Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) Chairman Abdullah Ahmad–The RM85,000 (per month) Man

Ali Hamsa is also the wrong person to undertake such an important review. Foremost is the issue of conflict of interest. He is as guilty as that Mavcom Chairman. Hamsa should begin by declaring how much extra compensation he was paid in addition to his regular salary as Chief Secretary by virtue of appointing himself to be on the various boards. The recently-disgraced Treasury Secretary Irwan Serigar was on Khazanah’s and Bank Negara’s Boards, as well as others not yet revealed. He must have raked in substantial additional income from director’s fees.

Ali Hamsa, Irwan Serigar, Abdullah Ahmad and countless others are guilty of double dipping into the public purse. The poor rakyat bears the burden of such rampant lucrative practices.

Ali Hamsa is also ill-qualified to undertake such a review. He has spent all his career in the civil service. He knows nothing of the culture or value of talent in the competitive private sector. He has been receiving not giving out paychecks all his life; he has no appreciation of the challenges in having to meet a payroll

Scrutinize the corporate structures of many GLCs and statutory bodies. They have myriads of subsidiaries and associated companies. The reason is simple – management greed; more corporate entities, more board of director’s positions! Ever wonder why those GLCs and statutory bodies lose money.

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The High Flying and Publicity Seeking Former Secretary-General to the Treasury, Irwan Serigar Abdullah, now in cold storage at Intan

If companies like Petronas need outside directors, the Professor of Petroleum Engineering from the University of Malaya would be a far superior choice than a recently retired Chief Secretary to the government. All the latter would do is graft the stultifying civil service culture onto the company.

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Tabung Haji Chairman Abdul Azeez Rahim with a Phd from Preston University who was a used car salesman

Appointing that professor as director would also be a way to augment his otherwise meager academic pay. That might just be the inducement for him to stay on campus instead of joining the private sector, to the loss of his students who would be the country’s future petroleum engineers. The professor would also gain real world experience, again to the benefit of his students. Likewise with Tabung Haji. Why not appoint the local Professor of Economics or Accounting to its board? That would be far superior than having that mamak with a PhD or MBA from Preston University!

 

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 Isa Samad–Former FELDA Chairman and Head of SPAD

 

Another common and lucrative double-dipping scheme occurs when retired civil servants or former public officials are appointed to statutory bodies or GLCs. The number one culprit in the news today is Isa Samad. He is notorious for other reasons. For this discussion, while he is drawing a substantial pay as the head of SPAD (the Malay initials for the federal public transportation agency), he is still getting his pension as a former MP and a Federal Minister, as well as that of a State (Negri Sembilan) Chief Minister, and as a state legislator (ADUN). Beyond that he is also getting one for being the former head of FELDA. These entities may have different names but their paymaster is the same – the rakyat.

Such “double dipping” should be banned. If a retired civil servant or public official is appointed to a GLC or statutory body and he is getting a regular salary, then he should not be allowed to draw on the pension of his previous job. Instead he should be considered as continuing to work for the same paymaster but in a different capacity. Of course if he were to start his own business or be employed by a private company, that would be a different matter. In that case he should be entitled to the government pension of his old job.

If such a policy were to be instituted, then all those soon-to-retire civil servants would remain busy in their jobs instead of preoccupying themselves lobbying for a post-retirement position in a GLC or statutory body.

There would two immediate positive effects of such a policy. One, those civil servants would now be less likely to be seduced by their political masters as is the current culture. They would now be more likely to be independent if not outspoken in disagreeing with their political superiors. That could only be good for the country’s administration.

The other positive effect would be to encourage more Malays (most civil servants are Malays) to enter the private sector either as employees, directors, or to create their own businesses. That would increase the rate of Malay participation in the private sector far more effectively and efficiently than starting expensive and often money-losing GLCs. They would then be more like Rafidah Aziz with Air Asia, or set up their own professional practices as Aziz Abdul Rahman, former Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines, with his own law firm.

In the 1960s Tun Razak lowered the retirement age (it was 55 then) so enterprising young civil servants could retire to start their own businesses. That initiative spawned many Malay-owned businesses. This was also the practice of the Italian government and resulted in the blossoming of entrepreneurial activities spurred by young retired civil servants who had the safety net of their retirement income.

This double dipping by senior civil servants and public officials costs the nation a hefty bundle. With Malaysia’s debt now exceeding a trillion ringgit, the nation can ill afford such outrageous wastage. Time to ban double dipping outright. There is no need for further unnecessary studies.

The Lavish MAVCOM –A Common GLC Problem


June 2, 2018

The Lavish MAVCOM –A Common GLC Problem

by R. Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com

Taxpayers expect at least a semblance of practicality, pragmatism and realism when their hard-earned money is expended. People are willing to pay RM1 for peace of mind when they travel, but certainly not for fat cats to pay themselves high salaries. –R. Nadeswaran aka Citizen Nades

COMMENT | The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Just after the elections, AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes made a serious charge against the commission, questioning its integrity.

Fernandes claimed that the airline was pressured to cancel an additional 120 flights during the 14th General Election period. Mavcom said it viewed the claim seriously and lodged a police report against Fernandes over the allegation.

“The Commission has never issued such a directive to any airline, including AirAsia, to reduce or cancel any flight where regulatory requirements have been met,” it said.

Mavcom also said that it had commenced an investigation into the claim. “We will keep members of the public informed,” said a spokesman in a statement on May 14. A police report was also lodged.

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How does Mavcom justify paying this retired General RM85,000 per month? He must be a management genius. The Directors must be held accountable for this irresponsible decision. Unconscionable .–Din Merican

Today, more than two weeks later, we have not been informed of the outcome of the investigation. Instead, we are told that the salary of Mavcom’s Executive Chairperson General (Rtd) Abdullah Ahmad is a whopping RM85,000 – more than four times the salary of the Prime Minister.

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Entrepreneur Tan Sri Tony Fernandes–A Victim of Politics. It is time we recognise his contributions to the Malaysian Economy and for building AirAsia into an award winning global brand, in stead of demonizing him. I am glad that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and former MITI Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz have come to his defense.–Din Merican

It is also pertinent to ask when the results of the probe will be made public. It is not rocket science. Fernandes says he has the evidence to prove it. Has Mavcom requested for it – or is it too embarrassed that the cat will now be let out of the bag?

More importantly, is this kind of salary for the Mavcom executive chairperson justified? Who approved the salary? How did the board, in this instance the other commissioners, approve this? How did they conclude on the salary scale?

What is the basis for such a humongous salary? Other commissioners have to answer to the taxpayers on how they arrived at their executive chairperson’s salary. Do they actually need an executive chairperson? Why not ask the CEO to report to the board?

The Board Members are:

  • Secretary-General of the Transport Ministry Saripuddin Hj Kasim;
  • former Director-General of the Economic Planning Unit, Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid;
  • Lawyer and Suhakam Commissioner Mah Weng Kwai;
  • former Housing and Local Government Minister Chor Chee Heung,
  • former Transport Ministry Secretary-General Long See Wool,
  • retired civil servant Fauziah binti Yaacob,
  • Deputy Chairperson of the Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) Shaik Hussein Mydin, and
  • Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Managing Director of Prokhas Sdn Bhd, a Ministry of Finance Inc. company.

At this juncture, it is pertinent to explain how a traveler’s RM1 is spent. According to its latest available Annual Report on its website, from March 1 to Dec 31, 2016, Mavcom incurred staff costs of RM8.7 million.

Big task ahead

It further paid RM570,000 in Directors’ Fees. Mavcom had 11 board meetings during a 10-month period. Calculated loosely, each of the eight directors earned RM5,100 for attending each of the 11 meetings. The accounts also show that RM770,000 was spent on travel and accommodation.

Image result for Anthony Loke, minister of transport

Minister of Transport Anthony Loke–Fix the MAVCOM nonsense

Mavcom is not the only one that pays its directors lavishly. The Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) pays each of its 18 directors RM2,000 per month and a one-off tuxedo allowance of RM3,000. (The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission pays members of it advisory panel RM300 each for attending monthly meetings.)

HRDF’s funds come from employers who have to contribute one percent of their monthly payroll. The money is supposed to be used for the training of their respective staff but in the past, HRDF was involved in dubious diploma courses from the UK.

It also spent RM25,000 on an advertisement congratulating its then Minister Richard Riot on being conferred a ‘Datuk’ title!

Taxpayers expect at least a semblance of practicality, pragmatism and realism when their hard-earned money is expended. People are willing to pay RM1 for peace of mind when they travel, but certainly not for fat cats to pay themselves high salaries.

Similarly, employers expect their one percent levy to be used for training their own staff and not for directors to benefit at their expense.

There’s a big task ahead for the new ministers to the review unrealistic salaries, allowances and perks to organisations under their purview. Mavcom and HRDF are just two examples.

There are scores of other agencies and a review will help save the government millions of dollars. Let not history repeat itself. It was the negligence of the board that led to colossal losses in the Port Klang Authority and the Port Klang Free Zone scandals.

Also, the government-appointed directors of the National Feedlot Corporation board were oblivious to the fact that monies meant for cattle farming were used to buy luxury condos.

R NADESWARAN has been campaigning for good governance for oer 30 years and expects the new government to emphasise on its cornerstones – transparency and accountability. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

 

The Pakatan Harapan Cabinet


April 9, 2018

The Pakatan Harapan Cabinet

Malaysia will have 2 Deputy Prime Minister if Pakatan Harapan  takes over Putrajaya after GE-14. Malaysians are wondering what will be the fate of Najib Razak and his bunch of Ministers and top civil servants who spent nearly 10 years buttering up their corrupt boss.–Din Merican