Side Views

Reflections on Budget 2014 – Sakmongkol AK47

Each year we lose around RM20 billion through all sorts of leakages in our economy. When the government cannot explain incompetence, negligence, corruption, falsification of prices, they use the term leakages. This is reported year in and year out by the Auditor General.  The danger here is that these wrongdoings continue to be unceasing. Our unconcern indicates that we have not developed a culture of detesting any form of wrongdoing. Its especially made more difficult to fight against it, if the public spirited voice belongs to a non-Malay Malaysian. His/her crusade against the wrongdoer usually the government, is seen as cause carried out by a non-Malay against a Malay dominated government. This is most unfortunate- the issue here is the wrongdoing, not the wrongdoer.

We could save another RM20 billion too if not for our nefarious system of selected tenders and direct negotiations. Selected tender means what it is- a tender among the select few. The select few are companies belonging to the same people. As to why choose direct negotiations, the government respond by saying it saves time. Meaning they cannot afford to waste any time in getting their hands on the money.

Imagine if we now place more money in the hands of this government what is likely to happen? It will be another windfall for the thieves in the government to hive off bigger chunks from the economy. The government tightens the selection and shut out busybodies.

The issue of corruption is hardly touched in the budget although it constitutes the biggest drain on our economy. Instead the government wants to introduce a more efficient method of fleecing the people. More money is needed to sustain a business model of the 20%, by the 20%, for the 20%.

During his budget speech, the PM declared he will fight to the end to keep Putrajaya. Such ferocity is laudable but also laughable as it is nothing more than an exhibition of brinkmanship. Talk is cheap. He and Umno are entitled to fight to the end to keep Putrajaya.  BN’s tenure in Putrajaya is on the basis of a temporary Occupation License (TOL). It’s not on the basis of a permanent title. Every 5 years or so, the party forming the government places its fate in the hands of voters. Just as he vowed to do what he has said, the opposition will do everything possible to legally and constitutionally evict BN from Putrajaya.

What does Umno stand for anyhow? It can’t continue to stand on a corrosive foundation of falsehoods. Those falsehoods have taken the form of, intimidation, racist policies, unfair treatment of East Malaysians, pitting communities against one another. Topping it all up is the pervasive corruption that has become a culture in Umno and infected all sinews of the administration. These are not elements of an enduring foundation- but then Umno leaders know this. The rot is irreversible and the end is inevitable. Since they can’t reverse it, the must take advantage of their power to the fullest.

So Najib must talk the tough talk. All the tough talk about fighting for the rights of Malays and so on and so forth are all bullshit. Isn’t that what Umno has been fighting for all these years since it became the government? It is nothing new but Umno must make thunderous statements about this emotive cause to appease the discontent that is building up in the Malay community. The bottom 40% still share 14% of the income and has remained as the Sad Class, deprived of income enhancing resources. The income enhancing resources have always gone to the top 20%. It has remained that way ever since Umno came into power.

Especially so after Mahathir took over and the same idea is being pushed through by Najib. Umno fights to keep power so that with power it can go on pillaging the country while deceiving the Malays especially that its fighting for them.

This is my first year in parliament and watching at close quarters seeing how the BN elected representatives defend what essentially is a business plan to fleece the public. The handful who understands what GST is all about are parroting what the accountants are saying that GST is a more effective way to scrap the bottom of the barrel so that nothing is left. The idea GST is to ensure society pays taxes. The tax evaders will continue to do what they have been doing all this time- evade taxes. Receipts can be falsified, the efficacy of the collection system at the end of the day will depend on the integrity of whole people supporting the system. If corruption has become a culture, tax dodgers will always find ways to outwit the system. The ultimate hapless victims are always the rakyat.

The people will see how capricious and rapacious the government is by introducing GST in 2015. The purpose of the GST is to make sure everyone pays taxes and to collect more money. Every one of us should be scared now. More money in the hands of a greedy and corrupt government is a sure recipe for a bleak future. Our lot will be one of endless miseries.

During a debate session, a minister rose to say that it is not right for opposition members to say whatever we spend is the rakyat’s money. Once the budget is approved, the money becomes the property of the government. He likens the appropriated money like the money collected by the Muslim institutions that collects zakat and then appoints the money as they wish.

He is wrong. It is the rakyat’s money. We have legally empowered the government to collect taxes and other dues. The money is placed in a consolidated fund. In order to finance its business, the government of the day comes before parliament and asks for a specific sum of money to be appropriated from the consolidated fund. Once approved, the government distributes the money to the various ministries. The ministries in turn use the money for the purposes they have put up. Its money entrusted with the government to use judiciously and specifically. Our duty as elected representatives is to see that this money is spent so.

That is why we come before parliament to inquire upon the uses of the money. We come before parliament asking how the government has spent and will spend the money. If it’s the government’s own money, then we could not care less even if they spend the money in ruinous ways.

This clearly is a wrong attitude and for such a position being taken by a government leader explains why there are so many wrongdoings as reported by the Auditor General’s Report. Because the government takes it that the money appropriated by parliament as absolutely theirs, they can do as they like. Therefore stealing, skimming, falsifying prices, rent seeking, regulatory capture, manipulating tender awards are all permissible because, it’s their money not the rakyat’s money. –, November 3, 2013.

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de guerre of Datuk Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz who is the Raub MP.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


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