Mat Sabu S Corruption Disclosures Are The Tip Of The Iceberg




Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu, aka Mat Sabu, has shocked Malaysians by exposing the many instances of kickbacks and allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Defence
Land swaps were authorised by a former prime minister and his defence ministers. The majority of fighter jets were stored in hangars because maintenance costs were not factored into the budget. The multitude of different types of planes made procurement and maintenance unmanageable
Mohamad's latest allegations of corruption about land and military hardware exposed the corruption that cost taxpayers several billion ringgits
Corruption does not necessarily involve the purchase of capital hardware, but can involve consumables that are equally important, like the provision of meals for the military, or boots and uniforms. A nourished and well-kitted soldier is necessary for national defence. One who is malnourished, or improperly shod, cannot perform well. An army marches on its stomach
It is alleged that, after Hari Raya, the military will send out a tender for the making of uniforms
It is also common knowledge that a company, which is alleged to have close links to the disgraced, former "self-styled" First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM), Rosmah Mansor, may take part in this exercise. Will the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) note this company's every move and scrutinise the movements of military personnel, including Mohamad's aides
This textile company has also diversified into providing helmet and body armour to the Armed Forces. Mindef was a gold mine for the unscrupulous crony. What will happen, now that disgraced Najib Abdul Razak and FLOM are no longer in power
Incidentally, how does a prospective business know that a government tender it enters into will be legitimate and clean
Pakatan Harapan may be making the right noises when it comes to corruption, but who is in charge of the tender assessment
Does an evaluation panel decide if the company has the financial capability and experience to do the work, and also, whether it offers the best value for money
So, who is on the evaluation panel? One would hope that the end users are represented, and their decisions are independent of any outside influence
In the past, it was alleged that Najib, or his aides, put pressure on the generals and the selection panel to nominate the uniform company favoured by his wife

Civil servants in Malaysia have difficulty accepting that they serve the government of the day, whatever their political allegiance. In the past, they have not upheld the best interests of the country or the taxpayer
So, how are prospective businesses to know that members of the evaluation board are impartial, and have no links to cronies
How rigorous are the background checks on a company, to ensure it is not a proxy for a politician of the previous regime
Companies enter a tender exercise, having spent time and money to get the right cost, work out the manpower requirements and secure legal advice to fit the tender requirements
To be business-friendly...We know from previous revelations that companies would put in their bid, only to find that the tender exercise was just a smokescreen. A crony company had already been selected to "win" the tender and be "awarded" the contract. The tender exercise was just to give the impression to the public that everything was above board and it was an "open tender". It was not
If "New Malaysia" is to be business-friendly, then companies need to be reassured that the effort and expense of bidding for a government contract can be justified
If the top is seen to benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions of ringgit, staff lower down the pecking order will also be on the take, because of the poor example set by their leaders
Incidentally, in previous corrupt practices, who made the first move? Was it the company? Or those who were in charge of the tender, including those on the tender board? Or the political aides
In one allegation made during Najib's tenure, a Malaysian entrepreneur and civil engineer, working in America, decided to return to Malaysia to set up a factory. At a "meet the minister" talk organised by the embassy, he was told, by the minister, to iron out the details with his aide
The engineer's enthusiasm to establish a factory in Malaysia turned to scorn, for the aide made demands that had no relevance to the functioning of the factory - and were nothing more than inducements to expedite the paperwork. He abandoned his dream of returning to help his nation
Similar horror stories occur in Malaysia where, in return for a politician's "recommendation", a company must be prepared to make hefty political donations
If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, the ministries and state governments under the previous Umno-Baru/BN administration were rife with allegations of corruption, sexism, favouritism and racism, including funds that were misspent
What happens now, under Harapan? When will the previous perpetrators, especially those in the state governments, be punished
Corruption is not just about money. Corruption can also be moral, like the abuse of power and authority
It could take place in the selection and recruitment processes which are skewed in favour of a family member or close friend. Or allegations of the demand for sexual favours. Or humiliating and abusing the weaker groups, such as migrant workers and the intellectually challenged
Can the Harapan government assure us, and our businesses, that "New Malaysia" is different, and everyone is treated fairly?
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter. - Mkini

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