“WE should not take away what are rightfully the people’s”
I was awed. I really love it. Those are the words of our Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was speaking at the Prime Minister’s Department monthly assembly in Putrajaya on Jan 9 following a string of graft charges brought against civil servants lately by MACC.
“What the MACC had done these past few days reminds us about wastage … about taking away the rights of the rakyat. Don’t take away the rights of the rakyat. The rights belong to them.
“Remember when we deliver our programmes, it is for the people. So whenever there is wastage, the people will be disappointed and lose confidence in you,” said the CEO of the country.
The nation has watched in dismay and contempt the allegations of corruption, involving civil servants, starting with the biggest ever seizure of RM114.5 million, comprising cash, bank accounts, unit trusts and other assets within and outside the country, from the homes and offices of Sabah Water Department’s director and his deputy in October last year.
The detention of a secretary-general of a ministry, his two sons and a chief executive officer of a government agency two weeks ago saw another seizure of gold bars, cash and other valuables, valued at least RM5.6 million.
The latest MACC pick-ups are four Selangor Immigration Department officers for allegedly submitting receipts, containing falsified information on persons with disabilities (OKU), in the applications for Malaysian passports.
They were believed to have received the applications and issued valid receipts, according to valid procedures, but changed the information on the applicants in the system from “normal applicants to OKU,” thus pocketing the application fee of RM200 paid by the normal applicants because there is no application fee for OKU.
The sum involved allegedly amounted to almost RM1 million!
Many are expecting more high profile arrests following the Corruption-Free-Pledge signing ceremony with over 100 Inland Revenue Board staff.
Signs of improvements are everywhere but how much faith and trust the CEO and MACC can instill in the people is yet to be seen.
In a kopitiam talk, some praised the MACC for the great news and that things were getting better but one angry voice asked: “Have you ever heard of people dying from improvements?”
So the roundtable conversations started.
In Australia, the Health Minister has resigned amidst an on-going expenses scandal of using a taxpayer-funded trip to purchase an apartment on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Sussan Ley said she made an ‘error of judgement’ in billing taxpayers for three Gold Coast visits since 2014 and eventually resigned.
This is the kind of action we expect from ministers under investigations. But it is not forthcoming – from the MO1 and an opposition leader down to high-ranking officials either alleged to be under investigation or are actually being investigated.
“You call that improvement? You call that hope? They are still in power – so how can you expect investigations to be carried out without restrictions?” the voice of anger was heard saying.
So this story was told. A German woman, when taken seriously ill, was sent to the hospital.
In the evening, her husband (apparently out of town) inquired how she was doing and was told she was ‘improving.’
Next day, he asked again and was told she was still improving. This went on for some time.
Finally, one night he was told his wife was dead. Seeing the doctor, he went up to him and asked: “Well doctor, what did she die of? Improvements?”
The angry voice continued to ask: “Will a country die of improvements too?”
The first improvement we see was the CEO’s call for integrity of those managing public funds who are paid by taxpayers money.
The next was getting MACC, the police and tax agents to take drastic actions in some high profile cases and give them as wide a news coverage as possible.
“But the country is almost dead – corruption from top down, wastage of public funds everywhere. People who say they hate corruption are not rejecting corruption as they buy their way out of unlawful deeds they have committed. Don’t be too hopeful – it will die of improvements,” the angry voice cried.
But should we cry in despair because we are to die of improvements?
No. I am not an eternal optimist, neither am I a hopeless pessimist. There is hope if the CEO echoes what the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes in – that politicians, backbenchers and ministers should be as careful and accountable with taxpayers’ money as they possibly can, and that the working expenses of parliamentarians, including ministers, should be administered and overseen by an independent agency.
In fact, we do not need to look beyond our own Fairland Sarawak for integrity.
Our beloved former Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem took his integrity pledge as soon as he assumed the chief ministership to not allow his immediate family members to apply for land or logging concessions.
He walked his talk and lived up to his words.
It is heartening to note his successor Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has pledged to continue to fulfill the promises made by Adenan in protecting the rights of Sarawak.
Besides that, Sarawakians are certainly looking forward to the taking of Integrity Pledge by the new CM and his Cabinet members as what Adenan had done.
There is hope. Many of us have watched the video of America’s out-going First Lady’s last official remarks to the young people, educators and counsellors working with the youths of her country.
Michelle Obama talked about the power of hope – the belief that something better is always possible if we are willing to work and fight for it.
“It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country.
“Our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us,” Michelle said.
Let’s be blessed and inspired by these words of America’s former First Lady and work for improvements.
Be hopeful and also be mindful that chickens come home to roost and someday we will be rewarded according to our works.
There will be no publication next Sunday, so here’s wishing you all a happy and blessed Year of the Rooster.