Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling and Assemblyman for Kubu, Lim Kit Siang, in the Malacca State Assembly on Tuesday, 29th Sept. 1981 on the motion to congratulate Dr. Mahathir and Dato Musa on their appointment as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively and to express confidence and support for them.
DAP calls for a orientation course for all state government employees to instill in them the sense of service, courtesy and commitment to the welfare of the rakyat.
When the new leadership of Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa took over the reins of national government, great emphasis was given to the creation of a ‘clean, efficient and smooth’ government- ‘berseh, cekap and licin’.
The clock-in system was experimented in a few government departments and offices, and during the early days of the Mahathir-Musa administration, we have the spectacle of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, and even he Malacca Chief Minister, taking their turns in the newspapers about their checking out one morning to find who are the government servants who are late.
It would appear that for the first time in the history of Malaysia, political and government leaders discovered that public employees, like private sector employees, must be punctual and not steal time, which is equivalent to another form of stealing public funds.
But what everybody seems to miss is that government servants can clock in and clock out punctually, but without a change of attitude, mentality and their whole philosophy of service, we can have a government administration which is even more corrupt, inefficient and discourteous than the past.
Without such a change of mental attitude and philosophy of the civil service, government employees who are now forced to be in office on time and leave only at 4.30 are likely to vent their dissatisfaction on the public- and reports I have received indicate that this is taking place.
I would therefore suggest that an orientation course be conducted for all state government employees to instill into them the sense of service, courtesy and commitment to the welfare of the rakyat.
Establishment of a Assembly Standing Committee on a ‘Clean, efficient and smooth’ Administration
A ‘Clean, efficient and smooth’ government cannot be created by repeating the three words every day in the newspapers, without the will and determination to create the conditions and remove the obstacles to their creation.
I suggest that the State Assembly the State Assembly establish a Standing Committee on Administration, with the specific task to periodically examine public complaints about inefficient, incompetent, discourteous and dishonest civil service action, in the way that the Public Accounts Committee examine into the irregularities, improprieties and malpractices of public finance.
The Assembly Standing Committee on Administration should be guided by the three guidelines of ensuring a ‘clean, efficient and smooth’ administration, which receives and acts on complaints from the public, and present annual reports to the assembly.
That the government must be more serious-minded in building a ‘clean, efficient and smooth’ administration could be seen by a few illustrations.
1, Failure of the Malacca State Government to submit its accounts to the Auditor-General in time.
Under the Audit Act 1957, the Chief Minister is required to present the State Government Accounts to the Auditor-General for his examination, audit and report by within the first seven months of the following year.
This, the Malacca Chief Minister has failed to do for the 1980 State Government Accounts, and as required under Section 9 of the Audit Act, the Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin bin Haji Zakaria, had officially reported to the Yang di-Pertua that he had not received the Malacca State Government Accounts for 1980 by before 1st August 1981.
This does not speak well for the ‘bersih, cekap and licin’ government that is on the lips of every government leader nowadays, and the Chief Minister must explain to the Assembly the reasons for the failure to present the Malacca State Government accounts to the Auditor-General for audit on time.
There is too much delay in the presentation, audit and examination of government accounts to ensure that every cent of public money in spent for value, and now wasted, squandered or misused. It is because of the delay in presenting State Auditor-General’s Report come out late, and the Public Accounts Committee’s examination of the Auditor-General’s Report come even later, until they become meaningless searches into the archives of government accounts.
I have a motion on this matter, specifically referring to the Auditor-General’s Report and the Public Accounts Committee, and I will reserve what I have to say on this subject to the motion.
2. ‘Bungles’ and ‘Horrors’ of Government Inefficiency and Incompetence Galore
However, we must realize that there is gross incompetence and inefficiency in the Malacca State Government. Recently, the Press reported the ‘bungles’ and ‘horrors’ of the Federal Government Department as highlighted in the Auditor-General Report. Malacca State Government has it share of such ‘bungles’ and ‘horrors’.
I will just give a few illustrations from the Auditor-General’s Report o the 1977 Malacca State Government accounts:
(i) By the end of 1977, the state government had given loans to PKNM totaling $19.45 million, but repayments of $3.87 million on 12 loans including interest which should have been made by the PKNM by the end of 1977, had not be paid at all up to 15th June 1979, when the Auditor-General’s Report was completed.
Is the Chief Minister able to say whether this sum of $3.87 million which was supposed to have been repaid by PKNM to the Malacca State Government by end of 1977 had been settled now that we arein Sept. 1981?
Similarly, is the Chief Minister able to say whether the repayments which the PKNM is required to make to the State Government for the years 1978, 1979, 1980, have been paid yet? Can the Chief Minister give us the Amounts and the situation report, or the PKNM and the State Government do not have these figures?
In view of the fact that the state government’s loans to the PKNM derived from its borrowings from the Federal Government, the State Government will not be able to repay the Federal Government unless it is repaid by the PKNM. As a result, the Malacca State Government’s outstanding debts to the Federal Government keep piling up. Is the Malacca Chief Minister waiting for Datuk Musa Hitam to visit Malacca officially and announce the writing off of Malacca’s debts to Federal government, in the way that Datuk Musa announced the writing off of $24 million Federal government loan to the Ngeri Sembilan government because of the collapse of the Gula N.S.?
(ii) As far back as 1973, the state government’s attention was drawn to the outstanding debts owned to it from the government sale of 50 motor-boats by hire purchase. As of 1977, there are still outstanding debts totaling $123,489. But for hat year of 1977, only $80 was collected towards repayment. What is the position in 1978, 79 and 80?
(iii) Government officials who sit on government boards and statutory bodies are permitted to receive allowance of up to $500 a month, the excess allowances to be paid back to government. In 1977, three State government officials who sat on government boards and statutory bodies did not pay back excess allowances of $5000. Who are these official is this the example top government officials set for ordinary government employees to create a ‘bersih, cekap and licin’ administration?
Is the Chief Minister in a position to tell the Assembly the position for 1978, 1979 and 1980?
3. Overhaul of the Melaka Tangah Municipal Services
The establishment of a ‘clean, efficient and smooth’ administration must be seen, felt and experienced by every rakyat. For this to come about, in Malacca, there must be an overhaul of the Malacca Municipality which has failed to perform the basic functions and services of keeping the Municipality clean, maintain roads and drains, and ensure environmental qualify of life.
Recently, the Municipality announced that from Nov.1, the Municipality would be prosecuting those who throw litter or offend the cleanliness laws, the first offender could be fined $500 and he subsequent offender $1,000.
The biggest offender and culprit in not keeping the Malacca Municipal area clean is the Municipality itself, which allow drains to be clogged up, rubbish uncleared for days, and residential areas used as rubbish dump causing hazard to health.
Before the Municipality goes on a spree to prosecute the people, it must be able to set a good example of competence, efficiency, in removing rubbish and keeping the town clean. Otherwise, the Municipality is just diverting attention from its failure to keep the town clean with a competent and efficient service, and passing the buck.
Jalan Bukit St. John is the example. The entire road had for months been dirtied by lorries carrying earth for land-reclamation in Bandar Hilir. The Municipality had been informed umpteenth times by the residents in Jalan Bukit Stn. St. John, and the Municipality had taken various actions, but without any effect. Jalan Bukit St. John is as dirty as ever with falling earth, and the people on the road victims of the failure of the Municipality to maintain cleanliness.
I support the campaign to keep Malacca town clean, and that every one should be civic conscious, but I must also warn the Municipality not to send over zealous and power-mad enforcement officers who want to show their power by writing out summonses, regardless of cause or reason.