Very expensive 'Hokkien mee' in Penang

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Since Pakatan Rakyat took over the Penang State administration in March 2008, the drive to weed out corruption has been the main agenda for the administration.

The task of catching corrupted officers is never easy as the state government has hundreds of agencies and departments.

Corruption has somewhat ingrained in many of these corrupted officers but it doesn't mean that the state administration will give up the will to weed out corruption.

The state government will have to continue to try to force these corrupted officers until they are forced to leave the administration.

These corrupted officers are superior in their corrupt practices making them so sleek that they either are able to avoid arrest or strike fear among the general public so that their practices will not be exposed.

Like always, I wish to relate a real life case where it involves a former corrupt department head in the local council.

Perhaps, this former head took the opportunity to demand things from the general public because the department which the head led is in charge of approving many development projects.

Whenever there are any high value projects, this department head will "assign" his "friend" as proxy to contact the project head of the said project to express his friend's wish to meet.

Before meeting, this proxy will ask for at least two packets of ‘Hokkien Mee' since it will be customary to start off the meeting after eating.

What I gathered from the industry was that each packet of ‘Hokkien Mee' is valued at 100 units.

I am sure you will like to know what it meant by 100 units? If you still do not know what it meant by 100 units, please go and ask your developer friends as many of them would have dealt with this character before and they would probably tell you more of what they know about this character.

Also, when this former department head was in a good mood, a request to the big consortiums to sponsor a holiday trip to a nearby neighbouring country would be asked and generally it would include "special services".

Most of his packets of ‘Hokkien mee' will never be received by the department head and it will be received by the proxy acting on his behalf.

His proxy will act as an agent to get the ‘Hokkien mee' and the proxy will request that the units be made in cash where the serial numbers of the dollar notes will not be in sequence.

In case anything happens, MACC will find it difficult to trace these dollar notes. In case of any betrayal by developers, setting of traps will definitely be of high risk.

Over the last 20 years, the department head had a whale of a time. When developers faced problems in other departments, the department head would also step in to help.

At the end of the day, many developers enhanced their "working" relationship with this department head by providing more and more packets of ‘Hokkien mee'.

Many of these developers did not dare oppose him or blame him as they feared their projects being delayed without approval.

I have yet to finish my story. The department head will sometimes request for more rather than just ‘Hokkien mee'.

Usually, the department head will also insist that certain kinds of hardware and building materials must be purchased from his relative's company.

After all, if developers are pressed for time, such a request will further hasten the approvals, correct?

Well after taking power for over two years, some officers alongside with an exco decided to investigate this department head.

During the initial stage, the department head had friends across all departments and they tend to supply inside information much quicker.

On one occasion, the department head realised that the state government was moving quickly on him and he applied for holiday leave to avoid detection.

Eventually, we managed to get a developer who claimed that he was a victim and was willing to expose the department head.

The developer was willing to show the SMS the department head sent to him, all the serial number notes and documents.

We thought we could have caught the department head with that kind of information and probably the chief minister would be able to show the public about the corrupted department head.

Unfortunately, the developer decided not to proceed at the last minute making all our efforts to fail. He was still free after that.

The developer was concerned that if there was a change back to the BN government, this department head would continue to harass his company.

Anyway, the department head is definitely a smart person. When he heard of the government starting to investigate on him, he decided to leave his lucrative position. He opted for a more "noble" platform to further justify his cause.

Although we failed to capture the department head, it was fortunate that he decided to leave. However, we were not pleased that he was not punished for his corrupt acts.

The moral question we had was why was he so powerful in the past? This is because everyone he knew was part of his team.

He is now a darling of BN.

This is the real story of the most expensive ‘Hokkien mee' in Penang.

CHEONG YIN FAN is the press officer for Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

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