Opinion

A list of things to be sorry for

Kamal Amzan

Dr Kamal Amzan is concerned about where the country is heading, and whether the correct diagnoses and treatment will be able to save us all. He believes that politics is both an art and a weapon, which can be deadly in the wrong hands.Follow him on Twitter at @drkamalamzan.

MARCH 9 — Dear Prime Minister,

I hope you are well. I write to you as I was moved by your apology. It was timely on your part as my belief in the government was on the brink of extinction. Though you didn’t mention what you were apologising for, it’s okay as we the rakyat know what you meant.

But just so we are clear and that there are no misunderstandings, I took the liberty to list them down for you:

1. Failure to improve the Corruption Index: We remember the “good” old days when we scored 5.2 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. The slide began soon after your predecessor took office and disappointingly continued through yours. Though I had high hopes when you declared a transformation programme to improve the score, it was dashed when we were ranked 60 with an abysmal 4.3 points behind countries like Namibia and Rwanda in 2011.

2. Losses by GLCs: MAS stared at a RM2.5 billion loss for year 2011 while expecting to take delivery of its six Airbus 380 planes this year. Whether it is a smart business decision or not, I don’t know because I don’t usually buy things when I’m broke. Proton may be with DRB Hicom now but the losses incurred were before the sale under the watch of Khazanah Nasional, which reports to you. It made a loss of RM88.2 million in the third quarter last year in spite of all of the protection, assistance and support accorded by the government.

3. NFC: The RM250 million loan for the cattle project was meant for the company to breed cows. The directors can say what they want but it is wrong to use the loan to buy anything else, what more when it was bought in their name overseas. Your silence over this issue is deafening and how I wish you had acted differently when the news first surfaced last year. We are still waiting for the “independent” auditor’s report while the police and Attorney-General play tug-of-war. In the meantime it may be best to ask those with conflicting interests to go, to be a supportive wife and mother in times of the family’s need. She has repeatedly hinted that she is after all only “the wife”.

4. Lynas: I know you have repeatedly said that the factory is factually and scientifically safe. Malaysians hear you loud and clear, but maybe you have not heard Malaysians well. Let me put it to you simply, we don’t care anymore whether the factory is safe or not, nor whether the Australians want the waste, nor whether the health minister has finally understood the issue. It is as simple as what the people want. And the people do not want it in Malaysia. While you are still our leader, please listen to us, or you may find what we want is beyond your control later.

5. National security: While we manage to keep artists, journalists and some children’s books out of the country, your home minister has been found wanting elsewhere. Malaysians are concerned by the reported influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah, worsened by the delay in setting up an RCI to look into the matter, or the increasing arrests involving Africans and young Chinese girls within our borders. Not forgetting the Indian police who also signalled that they found a syndicate offering fake visas operating out of Malaysia recently. Why have we become a haven for such crimes?

6. Declining education standards: There is a reason why our graduates are unemployable. If trained staff nurses cannot find jobs, how do you expect those with other qualifications to do so? You should try visiting a local college and speak to the students there. You’d be surprised at their command not only in English, but the Malay language as well. The Star reported on March 5 that 60 per cent of graduates take about six months to find a job, and the other 40 per cent even longer, when our country is one of the top spenders in education. We need at the very least PPSMI back if not more, and we want quality graduates and not just scroll holders to fill our statistics.

7. Taking another country’s waste: When I say another country’s waste, I was actually referring to one Down Under. We seem to be taking not only radioactive waste, but also refugees seeking asylum there. I don’t think their objection comes from feeling remorse but due to the public pressure in Australia. We should learn a few things from them when it comes to managing refugees and radioactive waste, because I still wonder how we conceded to such deals?

8. Inept ministries: From the inability of the Health Ministry to supply clean water in Perak, the Transport Ministry’s failure to improve public transport especially the congested, broken commuter rides, or the Higher Education and Home ministries’ failure to identify the rampant abuse of student visas suggests a system breakdown.

9. Taking RM300 monthly aid from a disabled man: Sarawak Assistant Minister Datuk Mong Dagan wrote a letter asking the Sri Aman Agriculture Department to stop further disbursement of funds to a disabled man. Repulsive as it is, I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg and I ask that the decision be reversed and the assistant minister hauled up and investigated for abuse of his power. I am sure you concur; this cannot be tolerated and must be made an example to other politicians in power. Who knows, this may even lead to disabled parking spaces reserved only for government supporters in future.

10. For waiting after the next GE to empower the MACC: You want to give more clout to the MACC by setting up an anti-corruption service commission which will be responsible to appoint and terminate MACC officers. But why wait? Malaysians have waited time and again, while the government uses this carrot as bait to fish for votes come every general election. I am sure, Mr Prime Minister, that the rakyat and the opposition will support you should you carry this out before the next GE.

In fact, I assure you I will not vote those in your way to carry out such a big reform and I am sure many are with me on this.

I apologise for the incomplete list, as I found it too painful to continue as you must have felt when you didn’t mention them at all. But knowing Malaysians, I am sure they will help me fill the list up later.

This is the time to make amends Mr Prime Minister, and please do not wait too long before the country sinks even further.

We wait for your kind action as promised in your slogan, “People first, performance now.”

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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