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Abdullah should not continue to defer major shake-up of public delivery system as it has become a drag on nation’s productivity and competitiveness because it lacks efficiency and transparency

Media Conference (2)          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should not continue to defer a major shake-up of the public service delivery system as it has become a drag on the nation’s productivity and competitiveness because of its lack of efficiency and transparency.

More than three weeks ago on 1st June 2007, Abdullah had announced that he would be launching a new government delivery system on 14th June, 2007, and although he had instructed Ministers, Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers  “to ensure that the government machinery is prepared to implement the new government delivery system”, two weeks have passed without any news about the launching of the much-awaited new public delivery system.

Has the launching for the new government delivery system been postponed, and if so, why is there such a long postponement, or has the new public delivery system been aborted altogether?

In his controversial and critical speech to the EUMCCI (European Union – Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) last Thursday, “the capability of the administration to really be a public service delivery system, efficient, responsive, transparent and accountable” was cited by the European Commission Ambassador to Malaysia Thierry Rommel as one of the six factors undermining Malaysia’s productivity and competitiveness. 

Was Rommel wrong and malicious in defaming Malaysia? 

Not at all.  Rommel was saying nothing new as patriotic Malaysians have been identifying these causes of Malaysia’s poor productivity and declining competitiveness. Malaysians do not need Rommel or any foreigner to tell them things that they do not know, but when Rommel or other foreigners make bona fide comments and criticisms of the country, there is no need for government leaders to fly off the handle, over-react or resort to crude and irrational responses. 

Let us thank Rommel for reminding Malaysians what we all know every well as our own national weaknesses in international competitiveness, rather than pretending that Rommel is disclosing something which is totally unknown or unheard of previously. 

Lack of efficiency and transparency of the public delivery system must be  priority concerns of Malaysians, particularly when the Abdullah administration is embarking on a mega-project spree, with eleven mega projects carrying an astronomical RM90 billion tag – led by  the RM25 billion Trans-peninsular oil pipeline, the RM10 billion JB-Padang Besar double-tracking, RM10 billion extension of existing LRT lines and the RM9 billion Bakun undersea cable. 

However, almost everyday, Malaysians are reminded of one scandal after another of the lack of efficieincy or transparency of the public service delivery system. In the last few days alone, we have the following scandals: 

  1. Another “sick” new hospital - after a four-year delay, the RM90 million Pekan Hospital has been finally completed but with defects in the new building, especially leaking pipes. The Pekan Hospital was initially scheduled for completion in 2003 at a cost of RM80 million.

  2. The RM2.1 billion SMART Tunnel which is not so smart after all. The people of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia are now told by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah that the Smart Tunnel is only capable of diverting 45% of floodwater from the city while the Smart Tunnel operations general manager Mohd Fuad Kamal Ariffin has claimed that the Smart tunnel is only designed for storm floods but not flash floods.

However, the people of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia were never told of these qualifications and conditions when the RM2.1 billion Smart Tunnel was first approved in 2003 as illustrated by the following newspaper headline “No more floods in city centre by 2006” (NST 20.6.2003) which was never denied or corrected!

  1. The  mystery, secrecy and unaccountability which continue to surround the proposed  RM490 million Sports Training Centre at Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre (TARRC) in Brickendonbury outside London.

Sun journalist, R. Nadeswaran, who recently visited TARRC has come back with a scathing exclusive yesterday entitled “All talk, no action! – PROMISES MADE, RM800,000 SPENT, BUT NOTHING TO SHOW FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING CENTRE”

Nadeswaran’s report giving point-by-point indictment of the high-performance training centre in Brickendonbury as  “a catalogue of half-truths, contradictions and questionable expenditure of taxpayers’ money” would have caused the resignation of the Sports Minister in countries where there is a culture of responsibility rather than the culture of impunity. Is Nadeswaran’s expose going to be tabled in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow and full public accounting given after the Cabinet meeting?


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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