When would we learn our lesson from the Auditor-General’s Report?
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Malaysian Chapter (MACFE) is deeply concerned with the latest Auditor-General’s Report revelations of weaknesses and mismanagement in government departments. Many leakages are still seen to be openly occurred without fear, repeat year after year and this is evident every time the audit report is presented in Parliament.
When will we learn and apply appropriate actions and measures to tackle the issues featured in the report?
Many contracts are alleged to have been dealt by political lobbyists that are vendor- or contractor-driven where marked up figures are added. The additional figures then are tucked under the government allocation which are actually bribes or kickbacks. Ultimately the marked-up cost are either passed back to the public in the form of additional tax or the work completed would be of sub-standard quality.
There is also force figure which is not based on the market value for certain government contracts but rather prices have been fixed earlier and citing would be costly if market value is used. These are common especially in government acquisition which is said to form the main leakages.
Officials who commits such offences are allegedly protected under the esprit de corps policy i.e. ‘spirit of oneness’ that is overwhelming in certain lines of services. The reprimand for these corrupt public officials are often merely a transfer to another department without any stern disciplinary actions taken. There are also officials who even get promoted when in fact they have records of poor behavior or performance in their job.
Attention needs to be given to these issues in order to uphold an image of good governance. It would be very sad if it is indeed the reality.
Relevant parties need to assess if public funds are being well utilised and ensure that every relevant minister and head of departments are held accountable and equally responsible for the failure to adhere to the set of financial procedures, management, and acquisition of high value, unnecessary expenses and unachieved targets.
MACFE urges that not only stern disciplinary actions to be taken but also court action when cases and offences such as criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriations, forgery, cheating or misconduct and mismanagement are involved. This will also serve as a lesson to others in the service to think twice before indulging themselves in such acts or behaviors.
The government can introduce and formulate common law offence of misconduct in public office. In Hong Kong the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have the power to press charge to the offense of misconduct in public office. But the law should not be limited to only civil servants but cover cabinet ministers since they are the ones who make the decision.
Besides politicians are elected by the public and are expected to be responsible and accountable. The proposed new law, the country can fight leakages, wastage of funds and corruption much more effectively.
MACFE is also of the view that without an effective action from the relevant agencies and stern actions against the culprits the Auditor-General’s Report will only remain as a report and generates a culture of deviance with the irresponsible public officials continue to commit the wrong doing without any fear of being caught and taken stern action, including dismissals.
AKHBAR SATAR is president, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Malaysia Chapter (MACFE).
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