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Call on Abdullah as both Prime Minister and Finance Minister to respond to urgent issues raised in the first three days of the 2008 Budget and not delay for some two months until early November, particularly the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal and the outcry over the new rip-off of e-kesihatan monopoly concession awarded to Supremme Systems

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Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  
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(Parliament, Wednesday): I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also the Finance Minister, to respond to urgent issues raised in the first three days of the 2008 Budget and not to delay for some two months until early November Ė particularly on pressing public interest issues like the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone bailout scandal and the outcry over the new rip-off of the e-kesihatan monopoly concession awarded to Supremme Systems Sdn. Bhd without tender.

The Dewan Rakyat will adjourn for a 39-day break over the fasting month and Hari Raya holidays, resuming on October 22. This would mean that the 13-day general debate for the 2008 Budget before the ministerial reply would be broken up into two parts, three days this week and 10 days from 22nd October to 6th November, with Ministers beginning their reply on November 7, 2007.

There is something very wrong with the whole notion that issues raised in Parliament during the first three days of the 2008 Budget this week are only answered by Ministers two months later Ė especially with regard to pressing public interest issues demanding immediate response and action, particularly urgent matters like the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PFKZ) bailout scandal and the outcry over the new rip-off of the e-kesihatan monopoly concession awarded to Supremme Systems Sdn. Bhd without tender.

Accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance principles demand instant end of the governmentís denial syndrome both in and outside Parliament about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal Ė particularly at a time when the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are trying to assure Malaysians that they meant business and would not brook any hanky-panky following the shocking exposes of the pervasive culture of impunity, corruption, waste and mismanagement of public funds in the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report.

Abdullah said in Kuching yesterday that he had directed all Cabinet ministers to go through the Auditor-Generalís report in detail and to fully explain anything that is questionable.

He said: "During the last cabinet meeting, before I left for the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) meeting, I had directed all ministers to check matters pertaining to their respective ministries and report to the cabinet. Ministers must ensure that each matter raised in the Auditor-Generalís report is studied and explained in detail."

Several questions immediately come to mind. From Abdullahís own revelation, the first time that the Auditor-Generalís Report was discussed in the Cabinet was last Wednesday (Sept. 5) before he left for the APEC meeting in Melbourne.

But why had the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ďsleptĒ for over two months on the 2006 Auditor-Generalís report when the Auditor-Generalís Report into the 2006 Federal Government accounts were completed on 28th June 2007 and would have been submitted to the government shortly after.

Secondly, were the Ministers unaware and not responsible for the responses which had been given by the various Ministries and departments to the Auditor-Generalís Report, which had been tabled in Parliament last week in the form of a Treasury memorandum together with the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report Ė many of which had been found to be very unsatisfactory and even unacceptable?

Thirdly, although the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report unveiled a catalogue of horror stories of pervasive waste and mismanagement of public funds, like the payment of RM224 for a RM32 set of screwdrivers, paying RM1,146 for a set of pens costing RM160, paying RM5,700 for a car jack worth RM50, the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) paying RM5.59 million in advance to 4,183 students who did not apply for a loan, or the escalation of costs because of mismanagement and delays in the construction of six high-tech offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) by a whopping RM1.4 billion, they are either chicken-feed or comparatively minor when compared to a mega scandal like the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.

This is why I had asked in Parliament yesterday that if the Prime Minister and Cabinet could condone mega-scandals like the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal, how could it be taken seriously that action would be taken against comparatively minor offences by public servants as highlighted by the 2006 Auditor-Generaís Report although the abuse and mismanagement of public funds are still in millions or tens of millions of ringgit?

This is why if Abdullah really wants to send a clear message that he would not condone any further hanky-panky with public funds in government, then an example must be made against Cabinet Ministers, past and present, who had abused their powers and acted unlawfully, forcing the government to bail out the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone project when firm assurances had been given that the project would not need a single ringgit of public funds.

Otherwise, the assurance given by the Prime Minister yesterday at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore that his government would not bailout privately funded mega infrastructure projects that have failed would have no meaning whatsoever Ė as it would have been proved false by the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.
 

(12/9/2007)  


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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