How a million dollars could be made from supplying ‘instant mee’ to the armed forces

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, at the Simpang Ampat DAP Branch Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, 23rd June 1981 at 8 p.m.

How a million dollars could be made from supplying ‘instant mee’ to the armed forces

Malaysia is aflush with money – especially with the new wealth coming from petroleum, which has overtaken rubber as the No. 1 income earner.

For instance, in 1980, the Federal Government derived from petroleum alone total revenue of $2,540 million – which is more than the total revenue derived from the Federal government from all sources in 1970, which came only to $2,400 million.

With such vast sums of money, corruption and misuse of public funds has become the most acute problem ever since Merdeka.

Recently, the international TIME magazine reported Malaysia in the ranks of four other countries where the kick-back or mark-up price for government contracts and projects ranged from 5% to 10%.

When we consider that in 1980, government outlays on development expenditures exceeded $9 million, a ten per cent loss arising from corrupt practices like kick-backs or mark-ups would mean a loss of some $900 million in one year!

It is very easy for public monies to be lost in such dishonesty, whether it be the purchase of multi-million dollar defence hardwares, or in the supplies of ordinary government requirements.

For instance, the latest Auditor-General’s report on the Federal Government accounts for 1977, reported:

“Unrealistic Price of Instant Mee in Sabah and Sarawak

141. The contract price of ‘instant mee’ in Sabah and Sarawak for period 8th January 1977 to 31st December 1978 was $4.90 and $3.90 a packet respectively compared with the average contract price of about 14 cents a packet of Penisular Malaysia for the corresponding period. The government could have saved $962,000 had this item been purchased under the Penisular Malaysia contract and sent by the Ministry’s transport to Sabah and Sarawak.”

Thus, if for a small item as ‘instant mee’, unprincipled and unscrupulous people could make $1 million out of it, it is mind-boggling to think of the amount of money which unprincipled and dishonest people could make out of government expenditures, projects and contracts running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is an urgent need for the Federal Government to strengthen the powers of the National Bureau of Investigations if the NBI is not to become a ‘toothless’ tiger, which could bark but could not bite. The NBI should be greatly strengthened in staff and facilities, but even more important, very much greater powers than presently possessed by NBI should be given to the anti-corruption agency so that it could fearlessly fight corruption without having to await political directions and greenlight!