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Hishammuddin and all other Ministers whose Ministries, whether past or present, are implicated in 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report for mismanagement of funds should volunteer to appear before Public Accounts Committee instead of putting the PAC in an invidious position of whether to summon them or not

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Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  
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(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samadís description of the PAC as having ďNo bite but we can chase the truthĒ will not be agreed by many.

 

In an interview with New Sunday Times, Shahrir had responded in a Q & A as follows:

 

Q: Some have described the PAC as a toothless tiger.

A: We cannot bite because we are not an enforcement agency.

But we can exert enough pressure and provide the relevant agencies, like the ACA, enough evidence.

The ACA works closely with us.

We are also free to revisit any case at any time we want if we are not happy with the follow-up action.

We have the power to order a review of the case, like what we did with the Middle Ring Road 2.

For us, a case is never closed.

 

 

Shahrirís answer begs two questions:

 

Firstly, how many cases can the PAC claim credit as having provided the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) with enough evidence to prosecute, let alone convict, corrupt or errant public officials. As far as I know, the PAC score on this is zero. I am prepared to be proven wrong by Shahrir.

 

Secondly, can the PAC really pursue a case to the highest reaches of responsibility to get to the very bottom of every instance of mismanagement of public funds?

 

Considering the make-up of the PAC, where 10 out of its 14 members are Barisan Nasional MPs (with the Chairman also from the BN), the onus is on the PAC to prove that it dares to summon serving Ministers to appear before the PAC to account for the corruption and mismanagement of public funds under their stewardship.

 

The 2006 Auditor-Generalís Reports concerning mismanagement of millions, tens of millions and even billions of ringgit of public funds are a case in point.

 

For instance, the stewardship of public funds by the UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein when he was Minister for Youth and Sports from 1999 to 2004 is under public scrutiny Ė with the slew of cases of public fund mismanagement 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 RMN50, etc.

 

The Auditor-General reported that the ministryís secretary-general, only authorized to approve contracts which did not exceed RM5 million, had approved contracts violating this rule to the tune of RM449.42 million.

 

In the Treasury memorandum on the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report which was also tabled in Parliament on Sept.7, the Treasury stated that the Youth and Sports Minister gave a letter of authority to the secretary-general to sign the contracts which exceeded RM5 million each.

 

As the ball has been kicked from the then youth and sports ministry secretary-general to the then Minister, is the PAC prepared to summon Hishammuddin to appear before it to answer for all the instances of mismanagement of public funds in the youth and sports ministry as highlighted in the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report?

 

Hishammuddin should save the PAC from the dilemma of whether to summon him to appear before it to account for his stewardship of public funds when he was Youth and Sports Minister.

 

Hishammuddin and all other Ministers whose Ministries, whether past or present, are implicated in the 2006 Auditor-Generalís Report for mismanagement of funds should volunteer to appear before Public Accounts Committee instead of putting the PAC in an invidious position of whether to summon them or not.

 

Hishammuddin should set a good example for all other Cabinet Ministers to emulate, especially as he had publicly said that he had nothing to hide and that all claims on the misuse of funds by the youth and sports ministry under his stewardship should be investigated thoroughly.
 

(16/9/2007)  


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

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