Timah and the auditor-general’s report

Photo: The Vibes

The government, its leaders, some lawmakers, and a section of our population, please take a bow. You have shown the world that in difficult times, a modification of the phrase “Keep calm and carry on” can do wonders.

By replacing just two words, “carry on” to “divert attention”, even the most problematic issues can be put on the back burner while making way for trivial issues to be in the forefront.

Isn’t it an irony that at a time when the auditor-general warns the country that we are digging one hole after another just to fill the holes dug up in the yesteryears, politicians are trivialising a hitherto unknown brand of whiskey?

To put it colloquially, it is a case of “hutang sampai mati” (in debt until death) and yet the system pays scant attention to this gigantic problem.

Doesn’t anyone worry that Malaysians will have to carry the debts in perpetuity – generation after generation – while some decision-makers earn enough to last several generations?

Isn’t it an irony we are now understanding the mindset of lawmakers on both sides?

The latest salvo by one politician that “drinking Timah whiskey is akin to drinking a Malay woman” must be the crème la crème of the crop.

How she came to that conclusion deserves a doctoral thesis but when does this farce end?

Aren’t Ramly burgers and Dutch Lady milk synonymous with Malaysian consumers?

Aren’t we supposed to lather ourselves in the bath with Zaitun and use it “tanpa was was” (without any doubts)? Or have kacip fatimah in our food?

Yet, the attention paid to the amber liquid whose customer base is the minority community has far superseded the importance and significance of the national debt and other disclosures by the auditor-general.

Was this all pre-planned because of an important event in Malacca later this month?

Is it a case of declaring that “I am holier than thou”? Or are these efforts to conceal other adversities facing the nation and its leadership?

Isn’t it an irony when the auditor-general’s warning about financial non-compliance is ignored by the powers-that-be but diversionary tactics are used to overlook one sham after another that surfaces?

No check and balance
Auditor general Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid said there were RM510.49 million in irregular payments, of which RM499.19 million involved maintenance service claims without being verified at the National Security Council (NSC) level.
What sort of checks and balances do we have?

Weren’t the government’s financial orders breached? Who allowed this to happen?
Not to worry. They have better issues to think about.

The land of Hang Tuah beckons and there’s the whiskey “tin” to keep the minds of the people elsewhere.

For good measure, the auditor-general said: “To enable corrective action and improvements to be taken, the auditor-general has submitted 29 recommendations, namely four recommendations for verification of financial statements and 25 recommendations for compliance audits of federal ministries and departments, to be considered for implementation by ministries and departments.”

Wouldn’t it surprise anyone if such recommendations are put in a steel cabinet in the Putrajaya to gather dust? How many such recommendations were made by previous auditor-generals?

Have they been complied with? If they had, we would not have been in this mess in the first place.

Expressions of concern over issues that would put the country’s economy in a backspin are considered words in the wilderness as corruption, thefts, and leaks go on unabated.

While the foot-dragging over the Pandora Papers and related issues are in the public domain, isn’t it an irony that four ministries were involved in “negotiations” with the manufacturers of the whiskey to consider changing its brand name?

If only the same amount of latitude and importance had been given to at least one issue raised by the auditor-general, some money would have ended up in the coffers of the Treasury.

However, it will also be good to know the compensation package offered to the brand for its goodwill, marketing, and related issues.

So, we are back to the good old “bad” days when the Treasury was raided at random whenever the need arose. When will the government start thinking of financial prudence and cost-cutting?

While citizens are told to tighten their belts, this appears not to be applicable to the officialdom, some politicos, and their cronies.

Don’t we have people of integrity in the government or have we already mined the base?

People come first?

So, where do we go from here? Malacca is on the top of the pile. Power is the priority, people come second.

Don’t believe all those slogans of “working for the people” or “people come first.” It is winning at all costs even if it means subsidising the cost of consumer products.

Is this the best we can find among our ranks?

Thieves and felons roam the corridors of power to look for what is available. There’s plenty on offer. With so much leeway and freedom to loot, what’s there to stop them?

We have seen fat cats in government-linked companies and incompetent people in government agencies who have neither the knowledge nor the expertise to carry out the tasks before them.
The “kissing trains” episode should constantly remind us about round pegs in square holes.

There has been doctoring of proceedings, theft from the vaults of the MACC, squandering of money meant for the poor, back-handers, and kickbacks. Will anything surprise Malaysians anymore?

R NADESWARAN feels that every right-thinking Malaysian has reasons to feel angry and disgusted at the current happenings.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.