SHAH ALAM, Oct 10 — The head of nation’s graftbusters today expressed frustration over the lack of laws against the negligence and stupidity he blamed for many controversial decisions revealed in the latest Auditor-General’s report.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief also explained that any such cases should first be dealt with internally, and not automatically referred to enforcement agencies without any proof.
“The problem in our country’s laws is that negligence is not a crime. Making a wrong decision is not a crime, it is a disciplinary offence.
“Today, negligence cannot be charged, stupidity too cannot be charged,” Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed told a forum on the A-G’s report.
Abu Kassim explained that in several developed countries, anybody found guilty of causing the loss of millions in public funds can be charged for negligence.
DAP MP Tony Pua, who was also part of the panel, agreed with Abu Kassim, saying: “It is very easy to act stupid and get out of trouble.”
Together with Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, Abu Kassim also stressed that heads of department should first take disciplinary actions against their subordinates as soon as they were informed of the offences by the A-G.
Abu Kassim also maintained that the MACC can only act on offences that have been shown involve giving and taking bribes, cronyism, or fund pilfering.
“The responsibility of the heads of department is very important. Don’t leave it to MACC; that is outside our jurisdiction,” Abu Kassim said.
The MACC chief also stressed that he previously suggested for the current government procurement procedure to be amended, as it allowed for a bulk purchase tender with the lowest cost to actually be higher than the market price.
He also suggested for an online database to be constructed to list down acceptable prices for materials procured by Putrajaya, which can referred to during purchases by government agencies.
On Monday, MACC announced that it has opened 15 investigation papers so far based on the Auditor-General’s Report 2012 presented in Parliament last week.
Chief Secretary Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa also said that Putrajaya will form two committees to scrutinise and prevent a repeat of abuses such as those highlighted in the report.
According to the nation’s top civil servant, the committee to study the issues highlighted by the national auditors has already been set up, while the second will be created at a later date.
On October 1, the Auditor-General’s Report for 2012 was released to the usual teeth-gnashing from the public that welcomes the annual highlights of the financial mismanagement and abuses by government that cost taxpayers billions of ringgit each year.
Among the low points from the latest report was the RM2 billion the Education Ministry spent on sub-par security for national schools, over RM600,000 of shoes disposed of by the Customs Department after they did not meet requirements, and the Health Ministry’s decision to commission two social media campaigns at a combined cost of RM320,000.
The police were also discovered to have lost RM1.3 million in assets including guns and handcuffs, which the Inspector-General of Police later said may have fallen into the sea.
Although this year’s edition did not serve up a national scandal to match that of the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) previously exposed, opposition critics said the excessive spending detailed in the annual report pointed to an institutional problem with the government.