State-funded projects: Internal audit proposed

KUCHING: An internal audit could be launched to check state-funded projects following a recent disclosure that up to 60 per cent of government funds had leaked or diverted else­where.

SERIOUS MATTER: Dr Chan speaking to reporters at his office.

SERIOUS MATTER: Dr Chan speaking to reporters at his office.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said he would propose this to the State Cabinet during its meeting next Thursday in view of the severity of such goings-on.

“Auditing, as far as I know, should be okay but we better look into this. I will definitely bring it up to the State Cabinet to see how internal audit can help in this,” he told reporters at his office yesterday.

Dr Chan said that although till now, the focus of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appears to be still on federal funds, the state government too must start monitoring its funding.

He said this was a serious matter given that the

funds meant to benefit the people must not be simply pocketed by unscrupulous lots.

Last month, the MACC reported that up to 60 per cent of the government projects’ funds in the state were diverted.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (prevention) Datuk Zakaria Jaffar revealed that investigations were carried out on some completed projects between 2002 and last year and these included roads, low-cost houses and mosques.

In a press conference on Monday, MACC Sarawak revealed that it had uncovered a syndicate, comprising high-ranking government officials and a company director, responsible for misusing federal funds amounting to millions of ringgit.

State MACC director Samsiah Abu Bakar said  so far, MACC had detained seven individuals comprising government servants, contractors and middlemen who have been linked to the syndicate.

As reported in an English daily, she said the suspects, who operated as a group, had been active in Kuching and the  ‘mole’ had access to a list of federal projects.

She said the syndicate which had a strong network in other districts, had also fabricated claims for a housing project in Santu­bong.

“Our investigation revealed that the syndicate is also active in other dis­tricts such as Samara­han, Sri Aman, Betong, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang, Sarikei and Kapit,” she said.

She said MACC would pick up more suspects linked to the syndicate soon including those involved in ‘Ali Baba’ businesses.

The seven suspects had been linked to the misappropriation of project funds for mosques, suraus, football fields, community halls and clinics.

Kuching Resident Liew Ju Meng said houses built under the ‘Program Pe­rumahan Rakyat Ter­miskin’ (PPRT) in Kuching, is going on smoothly.

He assured that these projects showed no signs of diversions of funds or corruption even though the projects might suffer a slight delay.

“For now, we have received no complaints about our PPRT projects, and neither have any of our officers been pulled in for questioning by the Malay­sian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC),” he told Utusan Borneo yester­day on the phone.

All eyes appear to be locked on MACC’s next step, and when contacted yester­day, Samsiah reiterated that inves­tigations on the misuse of funds were still under­way.

“Let us conduct our investigation first. I do not want to comment on this today,” she said.

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