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Shahrir as PAC Chairman should ferret out the corruption cases buried in the Auditor-General’s report instead of passing-the-buck to the toothless Anti-Corruption Agency
(Ipoh, Friday) : I find the suggestion by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) should thoroughly investigate the issues and questions highlighted in the annual Auditor-General’s reports “as they contain many issues the ACA could follow up on” quite extraordinary and most embarrassing.
Shahrir is right when he said that “the Audit Department can only make observations and comments but ACA conducts investigations”.
But he seems to have forgotten or overlooked that as far as the exposes of misuse of funds, abuses of power, financial improprieties and corrupt practices in the Auditor-General’s reports into the accounts of the Federal Government, State Governments and the over a hundred Federal statutory bodies running into hundreds of billions of ringgit a year , there is in existence a mechanism to conduct detailed probes and investigations in the annual expenditures of public funds – the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament which is headed by Shahrir.
Nobody will object to the ACA adopting a pro-active stance in taking on board the Auditor-General’s annual reports as basis and source to combat corruption, although this will be completely out of character from its present role as an “All Cover-up Agency” which I mentioned in Parliament yesterday. If the ACA has such a pro-active culture, Malaysia’s standing in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index would not have plummeted in the past decade from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 37 in 2003 and No. 39 last year.
However, this can be no excuse for Shahrir as PAC Chairman to abdicate from his responsibility to discharge the PAC mandate which includes ferreting out the corruption cases buried in the Auditor-General’s reports instead of passing-the-buck to the toothless ACA.
Up to now, the PAC has not referred a single case from its probes into the Auditor-General’s reports to the ACA on the ground that there is prima facie case for the ACA to take action against corrupt practices or pursue further investigations.
Can Shahrir explain why? If the PAC, with all the powers vested in it by Parliament to summon all those involved in improper expenditure of public funds, corrupt practices or conflict-of-interest situations to appear before it to testify and give a full accounting, cannot uncover a single case of corruption all these years, is it realistic for Shahrir to give the impression that the ACA can succeed where the PAC had failed so signally?
May be, Shahrir should submit a PAC report to Parliament as to what further powers are needed so that PAC can more effectively and relevant to fulfil its parliamentary mandate to uncover financial irregularities, including corruption, in the public accounts.
The Federal budget for next year is RM159.4 billion, comprising RM112.9 billion for Operating Expenditures and RM46.5 billion for Development Expenditures.
If there is a leakage from 10% to 30% next year because of under-performance, misuse of funds or corruption in the RM46.5 billion development expenditures, we are talking about a leakage from RM4.65 billion to RM14 billion – which is no “chicken-feed”.
This should be the biggest challenge of the PAC particularly under the Abdullah premiership which had pledged a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent and efficient government – and not to pass the buck to the ACA. Otherwise, what is the use of having a PAC?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman