Home Civil Society Voices 2014 Civil Society Voices Shopping therapy won’t solve MH370 crisis

Shopping therapy won’t solve MH370 crisis

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We need to stop the government from going on a random ‘syok sendiri’ shopping spree for big toys, with the crisis as an excuse, says Steven Sim.


Have you heard? The government is now preparing to go on a multi-million (maybe even billion) ringgit shopping spree for defence equipment following the MH370 crisis.

See the news for yourself here.

Previously, I wrote that 100 days had passed since MH370 went missing, and yet, everything about it is still shrouded in deep mystery. There are so many conspiracy theories on the internet that we do not know what to believe anymore.

What my colleagues and I have been pushing since day one is a parliamentary committee to investigate what happened. I have also called for an SOP audit, post-mortem and white paper by the government.

But nothing till now. Even my question on this issue in Parliament was rejected under the pretext of it being a “secret”.

Defence is a mulit-billion ringgit industry even for a small country like Malaysia. The defence budget for Malaysia has been on the rise every year from RM13.82bn in 2011 to RM16.1bn in 2014.

My colleague Choong Wah, Senior Fellow of Refsa, a defence expert, estimated that about RM70bn was spent on defence since the First Malaysia Plan (1966) until now.

That much money, along with a lack of accountability, means a huge risk for hanky-panky.

It is no wonder then, that in the 2013 Defence Anti-Corruption Index, Malaysia is ranked in band D, receiving a D-, meaning, a lower performance country among high-risk countries in defence-related corruption. The report on Malaysia was centred on the lack of accountability and transparency especially in the area of defence budgets, finance, operations and procurement.

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The “crisis-as-excuse shopping” is a good example why Malaysia is ranked D-.

We need to stop the government from going on a random ‘syok sendiri’ shopping spree for big toys, with the crisis as an excuse. My colleague and I have called for the formation of a bipartisan Defence Account Parliamentary Committee which includes civilian military experts to provide oversight on defence-related spending.

This is our full statement. Please share it with more people to create awareness.

The so-called ‘Transparency Minister’, Paul Low, must realise that transparency is not merely about capturing a malpractice in the audit report after it has occurred.

But rather a transparency checkpoint must be placed at the beginning of any government process.

(And having a thick audit report doesn’t make us better than Singapore, please Minister Low. If anything it shows that our government abuses are rampant and serious).

Steven Sim is the member of parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

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