Frankly speaking: Not same old, same old, please

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 22, 2019 - July 28, 2019.
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On July 15, the National Audit Department released the Auditor-General’s 2018 Report Series 1. It contained the findings of an audit conducted last year that looked at various aspects of the public service and government activities at both the federal and state levels.

As with the reports of previous years, many of the findings and revelations would disappoint the public. Instances of poor governance, financial mismanagement and puzzling ineptitude have been laid bare, alongside matters of serious public concern.

Among other examples, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s budget was misused for matters unrelated to its mandate, including for donations related to a former prime minister’s books. There were findings of possible fraud in the home ministry system to regulate foreign worker quotas.

Research funds of more than RM31 million were handed out by the government but were neither spent nor returned to public coffers. A sports school in Perlis remains far behind schedule after the same “incompetent” contractor — as the audit puts it — was reappointed to revive the abandoned project after it fell short the first time around.

And our public healthcare professionals remain under-equipped, under-funded and overworked, putting them at risk of burnout and other issues. The list goes on and on.

The question is, what will be done about these findings? Will heads roll? Will those responsible for mismanagement and incompetence take responsibility and face the consequences?

For many years, these audit findings incited public uproar but ultimately saw little follow-through in seeking improvements so as to avoid recurring incidences. But we live in a new Malaysia and it is therefore encouraging that investigations have commenced on some issues flagged in the audit report.

Simply put, this is a golden opportunity for the Pakatan Harapan government to fulfil its promise of cleaning up the bureaucracy. The issues have been exposed; now only swift and decisive action needs to be take.

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