Government Department "merajuk"?


Written on 9/24/2005 03:39:00 pm by sikapitan

This past week has been quite interesting. Grabbing the headlines would be another tale of Government Department’s mismanagement. And that’s what I would call this sorry episode: mismanagement. It all began with the report that a lavish RM 5 million farewell party was planned for an outgoing department head. The next day, Tan Sri Abdul Halil Mutalib, the Customs and Excise Department Director-General, admitted that he was the one the media was hinting at. However, he claimed that the amount was an exaggeration, and it was not going to be spent on road tours and such. Heck, he even lodged a police report claiming that there are parties out there trying to undermine his credibility.

Things started to look brighter for Tan Sri, especially when media report keeps stating that the Customs Department is out looking for the “mulut tempayan” (which implicitly suggest that there IS a rabble-rouser in their midst). However, it took a turn for the worse when Tan Sri lost his cool and somehow managed to include Datuk Seri Najib in his press statement. This did not go down well with Parliament.

I don’t know for a fact if there’s a plan for a lavish retirement party, nor do I care for Tan Sri Halil. What alarms me is the fact that for the past week, the Customs Department managed to “lose” RM 7 million in enforcement fines. Apparently, this was done in response to the Government and public pressure on their beloved Director-General. Whether or not this was orchestrated at the highest level, it begs us to ponder the integrity of Government Departments. Perhaps many Malaysians do not feel that this is such a big issue, considering the fact that for most of us, our encounter with Customs official is limited to the ones at KLIA or Bukit Kayu Hitam. However, let us just say that the Director-General in this case is not from Customs, but from the NRD, and they decide stop making MyKads… It hurts to see this sort of subtle “threat” by Government Departments because even though it is not really targeted at the public, the effect is all the same.

Another one bites the dust...NOT!

Another murder trial, another failure by the prosecutor. As a law student, it hurts to see our judicial system called into question. However, we must not be shy of calling a spade a spade. Noritta’s murder, Datuk Norjan’s murder and now Xi Jian Huang, the 14-year old Chinese national – the list is growing. High-profile murder cases are not getting the convictions. One of the purposes of having laws is to ensure that in the event of a socially unacceptable behavior, a sanction is imposed. This is part of human’s sub-conscious – the need for retribution.

And when one murder after another remains an open case, it begs the question as to whether we in Malaysia can literally “get away with murder”. It is wrong to impute guilt on the accused, no matter what we think of them. It is NOT their fault if they are freed. The burden lies in the hands of the prosecution. It is better to free 10 guilty men, than the imprison 1 innocent man. However, is it really the prosecution’s fault? The AG Chambers has been getting brick-brats from the public, but what about the police?

The prosecution acts on the investigation by the police. When they initiate an action, the prosecution relies on the fact that they have preliminary evidences to indicate a connection between the crime and the suspect. The police collect these evidences. Malaysians are known for their “tidak apa” attitude, and sometimes this reflect in the manner the investigation is being conducted. Sometimes it hurts to see the prosecution present flimsy cases that appear so elementary to even legal undergrads.

But it must be remembered, the task of the defender is much easier. All they need is to plant a seed of doubt in the judge’s mind, and the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt is a heavy one on the prosecution. The defence attorney can devote their time to study every aspect of their client’s case, their only case, their priority. It is easier to protect an individual, then to prosecute many. That is one of the problems facing the prosecution – they do not have enough people.

Regardless of all this, there is a sense that sometimes, with proper planning and enough episodes of CSI, anyone with the right modicum of intelligence can commit a crime and get away with it. And that, ladies and gentleman, does not augur well with my conscience.

Don't hold hands, don't sing, don't wear skirts...

On a lighter note, in another example of social engineering (and wasting time), the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry will set up another committee to draw guidelines on reality shows. Apparently, there is a need to change the format of shows to suit local needs, traditional values, societal norms, unity and national integration. Which leads me to the question: what are Malaysians’ local needs and societal norms?

We are nice people who are polite to each other and don’t touch the opposite sex unless we are married? Are these really Malaysian values or are these merely the aspiring values that we so-often hope would become true? It is hard really to pinpoint what actually are Malaysian values. The trend of globalization meant that it is harder for a country, a region, a race to have a totally distinctive set of values. Japanese youths lap up violent video games just as much as your 13-year old kid. That German 16-year old is busy showing porn to his friends, just like that 30-year old petrol pump attendant in your neighborhood.

I’m all for promoting the correct values. But isn’t it too late to cancel Malaysian Idol or AF since you guys allowed American Idol or Baywatch to be shown on our screens?

Ahah, lama tak jumpa!


Written on 9/09/2005 10:27:00 pm by sikapitan

The government announced yesterday that they would ease the burden of the Malaysian public by, among others, reducing road taxes and deferring plans to increase fuel prices. This is great news for the many average Malaysians who are cash-strapped as they deal with the rise in fuel prices. It seems awfully deja-vu when we talk about rising fuel prices. It seems like only yesterday I wrote on the effect of such increase to my daily habits.

Frankly speaking, so far I have not felt the pinch. And that’s the problem isn’t it? The gulf between the middle-class and the poor is vast. For us (it might be a bit pretentious to declare myself as middle-class but that pretty much hits the right spot), our lives doesn’t change. We still go to work on our own, pushing our little fuel-guzzlers like we always do, going out to clubs on weekends like we’re used to, taking trips to the local mamak stalls like it’s second nature. We keep on saying, “Damn…harga naik siot…” but we still make that trip to One Utama, we still drive to KLCC on weekends.

If that’s us, what about the policy-makers, the decision makers? They are at least more affluent than I am. So how do all these affect them? Certainly, they can still afford to fill up their BMW 530s, their Ferrari 360s, and their Bentley Continentals. In other words, the people who make the decisions don’t really feel what’s going on in the streets. The Nasi Lemak seller who relies on his old Proton Saga to set up a stall, the senior yet underpaid civil-servant struggling to support his four children, the cobbler whose only daughter dreams of being a doctor...and these are the lucky ones, if you believe me. Just watch Bersamamu on TV3 or those sappy documentaries on Majalah Tiga, and you’ll see how poor people can get. Imagine eating snails as your daily meals!

My point is this, at the end of the day, the policy makers need to take a long hard look at the whole situation and come up with a definitive plan to combat these problems. Easier said than done, but that is why we elect them don’t we? Or do we elect them based on the flags they’re carrying? Thoughts to ponder…