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Where is the PAC heading?

Source: theedgemarkets.com

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A major concern is whether the PAC is aware of its direction, purpose and priorities, and if it is really effective in checking on the government’s financial activities to prevent further damage, wonders WH Cheng.

When the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was in the midst of investigating the controversial and debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), its efforts and hard work were suddenly halted when the then committee chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed and some other members, mostly BN parliamentarians, were abruptly removed and ‘promoted’ to positions in the government administration in a reshuffle by the prime minister.

During the transition, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia also disallowed PAC deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw from taking over the inquiry and had the entire committee suspended indefinitely.

The suspension of the PAC by the Speaker was justified by the explanation that the committee had been rendered ineffective following the departure of Nur Jazlan as chair and almost half of its membership.

The truth is, the move by the BN government has made the PAC a lame duck, thus delaying its entire proceedings and various investigations into the government’s financial irregularities, apart from probing the 1MDB scandal.

It is very clear that the BN government has openly attempted to stop the investigations into 1MDB at all costs in order to save the state-owned investment arm from any litigation proceedings that may tarnish its advisory board chairman Najib Razak, who is also the prime minister and Umno president.

Back to square one

And it is now back to square one when the new chairman of PAC was appointed along with some new members to replace those who were removed. Initially, intense politicking was seen as new chairman Hasan Arifin was twisting his way through when making statements on several issues.

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Meetings to review many of those reported financial irregularities and the 1MDB scandal were started all over again.

Various probes into the 2013 Auditor General’s Report have yet to be completed, but were compounded by the later 2014 Report.

Billions of ringgit have gone down the drain almost yearly and it may still be happening today. How many of these culprits have been punished so far?

A senior ministry official who approved more than RM2m of funds to buy thousands of racks, which cost only about RM1,900 per unit, is enjoying his life, continuing to draw his pension in retirement and perhaps, has already taken up a directorship in a private company.

A department head allegedly approved the purchase of screw drivers costing about RM80 each for his maintenance section. Has he been apprehended so far? No one knows. Perhaps he too has by now enjoyed yet another promotion to a position with more authority.

The education ministry’s community college in four different states was reported to have ordered the same CCTV model with a vast price difference ranging from RM35,350 to RM281,250.

A ministry senior official who travelled to Switzerland for a study trip was reported to have claimed about RM300,000 when the actual overall expenditure was only about RM45,000 or below.

These are only some notable examples of how our nation’s public coffers have been swindled. Instead of being distributed to the poor and needy people, these funds amounting to billions of ringgit went into the pockets of the elite and made them even wealthier.

If we were to list down the entire misdeeds of this government, its leaders, officials and their cronies, we would probably pen a few books on such.

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Can this PAC really cope?

Our major concern here is whether the PAC is aware of its direction, purpose and priorities, and if it is really effective in checking on the government’s financial activities to prevent further damage.

What are their capabilities, resources and strength to ensure their objectives and priorities are fulfilled to flush out corruption, power abuse and mismanagement?

Until today, we have not seen any of these values in the PAC. Instead the PAC is still politicking and bickering over public comments and criticism levelled against it.

Till today, the PAC is still flipping over the Auditor General’s Reports dating back to as far as 2012, 2013. It is randomly picking some from 2014 with many more still pending investigation, even as 2015 is coming to an end.

And these reports of misdeeds will definitely pile up further once the auditor general unveils the 2015 report by the middle of next year.

Can the PAC clear these backlogs in a timely manner to ensure those involved in all these wrongdoings are hauled up and punished accordingly? Or would it be a case of the PAC opening one case after another only after these corrupt officials have retired from the civil service and are enjoying their perks by then?

So, can this PAC really protect the interests of our nation?

Source: Berita Daily

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