Tuesday, April 23

Diligence in our lives


Due diligence under ‘scope’.

THE headline reads: “AG gives 13 state bodies excellent ratings.”

Lest we forget, it’s the report card of former Chief Minister, the late Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

For the record, a total of 13 out of the 27 Sarawak state government ministries, departments and agencies, audited by the National Audit Department, attained ‘excellent’ or ‘five-star’ ratings for their financial management in 2016. Eight received good ratings while four were given satisfactory ratings.

Allow me to mention that among the 13 ‘excellent’ state ministries, departments and agencies with a score of 90 per cent and above are Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation, Natural Resources and Environment Board, Chief Minister’s Office, Resource Planning and Environment Ministry and Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment.

As Chief Minister, Adenan achieved a number of firsts, and apart from autonomy and devolution of state rights, his legacies include drastic actions against illegal logging, the ‘Integrity Pledge’ and a stop to the building of big dams.

The Auditor General’s Report reflects much of Adenan’s achievements through the excellent financial management and performance of the ministries which were impeccably evaluated during his tenure. Many of them came directly under the Chief Minister’s Office.

The Report also reflects the diligence of Team Adenan. And don’t underestimate the word “diligence” as being  too small to describe a big man like Adenan.

God values diligence in His people as evidenced by the numerous references in the book of Proverbs, one of which being “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in salve labour.”

Indeed, hard work brings profit but mere talk leads only to poverty.

One would probably respect ‘the diligent’ more when looking at the character traits of the opposite personage that stands in stark contrast to it – which is ‘the sluggard.’

One way to identify a sluggard is that “he does or she does not work well without supervision.” A sluggard requires micromanagement – constant supervision, frequent reminders, specific directions and extra motivation to stay on the task.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently made a surprise visit to the site of the new Sri Aman Hospital where work has been held up for more than seven months.

After having a close look at the situation on the ground, he gave this assurance: “I will come again (to Sarawak) and with the Chief Minister (Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg) and other federal ministers, we will sit down and discuss with all state and federal stakeholders to look into each and every government project which has been delayed or abandoned.”

Such micromanagement is to be welcomed because it means the sluggards will have to pull up their socks and be on their toes to ensure that projects under their supervision or charge, are delivered according to schedule.

To say the very least, abandonment or delay in the completion of projects is affecting the interest and welfare of the people for whom the projects are built.

While Zahid was compassionate in mentioning the people of Sri Aman needed healthcare facilities, he, perhaps, should also have visited the new Petra Jaya Hospital, due for completion in July but was said to be only 64 per cent finished in May.

State Health Department director Dr Jamilah Hashim has said the new completion date is now June 2018.

Apparently, the delay has been more serious for the Petra Jaya Hospital project. But with zero tolerance for tardiness, as pledged by the DPM, should we not give the federal government which is funding this project and others in the state, the benefit of doubt?

The AG Report also rated two departments less than satisfactory – the Sarawak Museum Department and the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.

It is most heartening that Local Government and Housing Ministry and Sarawak Housing Development Corporation have responded to the shortcomings reported by AG on its various mismanagement issues and financial oversight.

Its minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian has reportedly given assurance that a thorough investigation would be carried out and that after the investigation, if there is any wrong doing, the Ministry would do whatever necessary including referring to MACC, the police and other authorities.

The public is also hoping that other departments with less satisfactory performance will also clarify and make their cause known to the public.

We welcome the DPM’s pledge to ‘sit down’ and address the problems. But we also need more diligent people who can stand tall and be accountable in getting the job done.

Remember, the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. – Proverbs 13:4.