22 September 2007

Police force to vet brides-to-be

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Policemen who get married without first getting permission from their superiors can face the sack or be demoted.

Two officers, who married overseas without informing their bosses, were disciplined by the Police Commission which met here yesterday.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said it was standard procedure for any police personnel to get permission before getting married.

“We have to vet first who one marries, it is the policy in the police force. They cannot marry just anyone for security reasons,” he told reporters at a press conference after attending a Police Commission meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other Internal Security Ministry officials here yesterday.

Another officer was also disciplined by the commission.

Musa said the three men were either sacked or demoted with immediate effect.

“I cannot reveal their names now but they will be made known on the police website soon so that it will act as a lesson to others,” he said.

Boikot barang harga naik melampau

Utusan Online

KUALA LUMPUR 21 Sept. – Kongres Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Di Dalam Perkhidmatan Awam (CUEPACS) mahu semua pengguna bersama-sama memboikot barangan yang harganya naik melampau sebagai tanda bantahan terhadap para peniaga.

Presidennya, Omar Osman berkata, badan itu bersama ahli-ahli Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Malaysia (MTUC) akan berkumpul di Plaza Tol Sungai Besi pada petang Ahad bagi melahirkan rasa tidak puas hati dengan kenaikan harga barangan yang begitu drastik.

“CUEPACS juga akan mengedarkan 30,000 risalah berkenaan kenaikan harga barang terutama 17 barang kawalan, dan risalah itu akan menyenaraikan jenis barang yang mengalami kenaikan harga melampau dan perlu diboikot,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat Biro Pengguna di Wisma CUEPACS di sini hari ini.

Omar berkata, pengguna mempunyai kuasa yang amat besar dalam dunia perniagaan. Katanya, sekiranya semua pengguna bersatu hati dan bersama-sama memboikot kenaikan harga barang, ia akan memberikan kesan kepada peniaga.

“Bila kita bersatu hati boikot kenaikan harga ini, peniaga akan rasa tergugat dan mereka akan sedar kuasa pengguna. Perkara ini pernah dilakukan dulu dan ada kesannya,” katanya.

Omar berkata, usaha memboikot kenaikan harga barang itu akan berterusan sehingga berakhirnya musim perayaan dan bukan sahaja terhad untuk pengguna di kawasan Lembah Klang tetapi turut meliputi seluruh pengguna di negara ini.

Beliau turut menggesa Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna meningkatkan lagi aktiviti pemantauan supaya lebih agresif bagi memastikan tiada peniaga yang mengambil kesempatan menaikkan harga barang.

“Daripada aduan yang diterima terdapat juga barang kawalan yang dinaikkan harga, jadi pemantauan perlu lebih kerap dijalankan,” katanya.

- Bernama

Only 2 experts to serve state with most respiratory patients


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has only two respiratory physicians to cater to the needs of the state, nearly the size of Peninsular Malaysia with a population of 2.7 million.

The situation is said to be caused by the reluctance of respiratory physicians or specialists from the peninsula to serve in the state.

Some claimed that the facilities were inadequate while others thought the state too remote, said Dr Jamalul Azizi Abdul Rahman, Department Head of Respiratory Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) here.

He is one of the two respiratory physicians in Sabah, who are both based at the QEH.

The need for more such physicians is compounded by the state having the highest number of cases of lung-related diseases, especially tuberculosis (TB).
About 4,000 TB cases are referred to hospitals in Sabah every year, also the highest in the country.

Illustrating the severity of the problem, Dr Jamalul said an average of 200 patients sought treatment at the QEH respiratory clinic every week and respiratory wards with a capacity of 40 beds were always full.

"This does not include cases referred from other hospitals," he said, adding that at least two more respiratory physicians were needed at the QEH.

Dr Jamalul also initiated the first National Interventional Bronchoscopy Course at the QEH recently with the objective of attracting more respiratory physicians to work in Sabah.

"The course was organised so that specialists from the peninsula would know what the hospitals in Sabah are capable of doing."

The course attracted 33 doctors, consisting of general physicians, respiratory physicians, university lecturers and cardiothoracic surgeons.

Two prominent international experts in intervention bronchoscopy - Dr Pyng Lee from Singapore and Dr Hidetoshi Honda from Japan - were invited to speak at the course.

Dr Jamalul also plans to initiate the formation of a Malaysian Association for Bronchology.

20 September 2007

'Immigration officer robbed us of RM15,000'


KUALA LUMPUR: Two Sri Lankans have claimed that they were robbed of more than RM15,000 by an immigration officer at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Sept 11.

Police Watch Human Rights Committee secretary S. Manickavasagam said this allegedly happened to Krishnan Pillai Aklieswaran, 32, and Piratheeean shortly after they arrived from Colombo.

He said they had been asked to surrender the money in US currency, valuables and their passports to the officer on duty who left soon after.

"When the officer did not return, they made inquiries with another officer at the counter but were detained and placed in the immigration lock-up at the airport," he told a press conference yesterday.

They were held there from Sept 11 to Sept 15 on grounds that visa validations in their passports were false and then taken to the Illegal Immigrants Detention Centre in Semenyih.
Manickavasagam, who lodged a police report yesterday, said the two had not been released despite an immigration officer verifying that their passports and return air tickets belonged to them.

Krishnan and Piratheeean, who had come here to visit relatives, had claimed that the visas were issued by the Malaysian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

"We hope that the police will investigate the matter and release the two immediately as they are innocent."

He said a similar case occurred yesterday where four Sri Lankans, including a 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, were detained on the same grounds.

Government tenders: Too many flaws in procedure


THERE is a growing concern over too many government open tenders and quotations being postponed.

And the most popular method of doing this is to extend their validity period of such tenders.

There were reported cases of extensions of up to one year or a few rounds of three-month validity periods.

A serious repercussion of this practice is that it may open a huge opportunity for breach of trust and abuse of power.

Extending the open tender validity period is a good excuse to prevent a tender being awarded, besides cancelling or recalling a tender.
While the latter means more complicated paperwork, extending validity is a lot easier and I believe far more "effective" for an "opportunist".

The standard six-month tender validity period issued by government agencies is still the longest period of any organisation.

To extend it only shows a lack of commitment and professionalism among those in charge of it.

The immediate losers are the contractors and suppliers.

It also involves a full circle of sub-suppliers, sub-contractors, principals and manufacturers.

You have to agree to extend or you will be disqualified.

The problem is that costing as well as terms and conditions will have to be renegotiated.

Suppliers and manufacturers are a non-negotiable lot. Bankers are even worse.

Credit is based on success rate and interest is charged regardless of usage.

Bid securities have to be extended and these, of course, incurs extra cost.

When projects are delayed, the overheads continue to run and at the end of the day, the tenderer will be at the losing end.

Tender documents are not cheap either.

An average contractor spends between RM10,000 and RM30,000 a year on tender documents, with a very slim chance of success (banks give the success rate for open tenders at only one to two per cent).

Today, it is a common sight to see 60 to 80 Class A contractors rushing to buy a RM1,500 open tender document.

Obviously, there will be only one winner. The remaining 79 companies will lose a minimum of RM1,500.

The government department in turn earns a staggering RM120,000 by simply preparing the tender papers.

And that is only for one tender from one government department!

In the era of globalisation, Internet, borderless world, upgrading of human capital and a whole lot more of technical mumbo-jumbo, our tender evaluation process remains primitive.

It is a slap in the face of our continuous campaign towards higher productivity and efficiency.

It is my sincere hope to see all the problems associated with the tender process being dealt with seriously.

We must make it our national priority as projects from government tenders alone constitute billions of taxpayers' ringgit.

They must be acknowledged, addressed, discussed and rectified as soon as possible.

Vacancies for counsellors in Chinese schools

The Star

TEMPORARY teachers interested in becoming counsellors in Chinese primary schools could apply to the state education department, said Sin Chew Daily.

The vacancies came to be following the early decision by the Education Ministry to transfer out non-Mandarin-speaking counsellors from Chinese primary schools.

The daily reported that the Penang Education Department has already accepted applications and the closing date is on Monday.

Application forms are available at district education departments or at the schools.

19 September 2007

Leave frozen for 76,000 policemen this festive season


KUALA LUMPUR: Only 20 per cent of the 96,000-strong police force will be allowed to go on leave this coming Hari Raya.

The remaining 76,000 policemen will be on duty during the holidays.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said yesterday only the leave of all traffic policemen had been frozen.

"Not all leave is frozen. Only that of the traffic policemen," he said after receiving 10,000 Hari Raya goodie packages for the force from Bakti (Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers).

Musa said the force, apart from regular duties and the usual Ops Sikap, would also be assisting the Road Transport Department in Ops Bersih, in which checks on buses are carried out.
On the Raya goodie packages, he said the gesture was appreciated and would help alleviate the feelings of loneliness for those on duty.

Musa received the donation from Bakti president and wife of the prime minister, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah.

Another 20,000 packages were given to the armed forces, represented by its chief, Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal, while 1,000 were presented to Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director-general Admiral Datuk Mohammad Nik.

Auditor’s annual admonitions

The Star

PARKINSON once joked about committee meetings. He said that committees reminded him of his daily visits to the lavatory – “First, the sitting. Then a loud report. Then we drop the matter!”

The annual reports of the Malaysian Auditor-General – conscientious, commendable and courageous though they are – arouse a similar reaction in many people’s mind. One is left wondering whether the A-G's ritualistic good work impacts on how public authorities handle public funds.

One must remember that the office of the A-G performs a significant constitutional role. Under our system of parliamentary democracy, the government must seek Parliament’s approval before it collects and spends money. As a “legislative auditor” one of the roles of the A-G is to review the Federal Government’s compliance with parliamentary authority.

By providing Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee with objective and independent information, the A-G assists Parliament to hold the government accountable for its stewardship of public funds. This is an important democratic role.

Independence is the key to the A-G’s credibility.

To safeguard this independence the office of the A-G is created by Article 105 of the Federal Constitution and invested with many of the safeguards, which are available to superior court judges.

Under the Audit Act 1957, the A-G’s primary function is to audit and report on the accounts of the Federation and the States. Under the Audit (Amendment) Act 1978, the A-G’s powers were extended to cover statutory bodies and companies that have 51% federal or state government equity participation if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong so orders.

As yet, the Government has not found it necessary to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to allow the A-G to scrutinise the books of Non-Financial Public Enterprises (NFPEs), subsidiaries of statutory corporations and government controlled companies like Petronas. These bodies employ their own private auditors and do not submit their accounts to the A-G or the Public Accounts Committee.

In the case of local authorities, their finances are subjected to audit by the A-G or other auditors appointed by the State Authority on the recommendations of the A-G (Section 60, Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171). The Auditor’s reports are laid before the State Assembly and, in the case of the Federal Government and the Federal Territories of Wilayah Persekutuan, Labuan and Putrajaya, before the Dewan Rakyat.

Parliament is able to remain informed on matters of national expenditure because of the Public Accounts Committee. The A-G is an ex-officio member of the committee. The committee’s function is to examine the A-G’s Report and to alert Parliament if money voted by the legislature is not spent in accordance with the allocations authorised.

The committee examines accounting systems practiced by departments, discrepancies in the recording of accounts and reports on possible corruption, embezzlement, misspending, over-spending, and under-spending. It also highlights problems of bureaucratic procedures that cause waste and mismanagement.

The Committee has the power to send for persons and papers by summoning heads of departments and statutory bodies to appear before it as witnesses.

But, like the A-G, the Committee has no power to change any decision or to prosecute anyone for any wrongdoing. It can only recommend corrective action. Its effectiveness in checking wasteful expenditure depends, ultimately, on the willingness of Parliament and the Government to act on its recommendations.

Critics point to several flaws in the working of the Committee.

Firstly, its jurisdiction is limited. It examines the accounts of federal ministries and departments and only certain statutory bodies whose accounts the Government places before the Committee. The most obvious flaw is the lack of control over NFPEs that are outside the jurisdiction of the PAC.

This means that statutory bodies like Petronas that are registered under the Companies Act are immune from the Committee’s scrutiny. So are all subsidiaries of statutory bodies. This should be a matter of great concern because NFPEs have budgets, debts, surpluses and losses that are comparable to that of the Federal Government.

Secondly, the Malaysian Parliament has not accepted the convention in Britain of appointing a member of the opposition as the Public Accounts Committee chairman.

It is arguable that a Committee chaired and numerically dominated by members of the ruling coalition would be loath to embarrass the Government through exposure of scandals and other malpractices.

Thirdly, some public servants are not entirely cooperative with the Committee. Despite the theoretical power of Parliament to punish for contempt any one who defies its summons, it is well known that senior Ministry officials often send their junior officers to face the PAC’s grilling.

There is an obvious need to broaden the jurisdiction of the A-G and the Public Accounts Committee to cover all institutions that generate or spend public funds.

The A-G should conduct value-for-money or performance audits on specific projects and programmes and submit periodic reports to Parliament. In Canada, the A-G produces about 30 reports every year to Parliament on audits and studies of entities and sectoral programmes.

Officers of the A-G should have a continuing, physical presence in the largest government departments and statutory bodies.

The Anti-Corruption Agency should act vigorously to investigate the findings of the A-G. Ministers and heads of departments should initiate surcharge proceedings against all officers whose acts of omission or commission cause a loss or wastage of public funds.

On the legal side, we need a Freedom of Information Act and a Whistleblowers Protection Act. Only then will the message be driven home that public office is a public trust. Parliament, the government and public servants are the guardians of the money entrusted to them to deliver programmes and services to Malaysians.

Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi is Professor of Law at UiTM.

Assessment of councils

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The public can now assess and provide feedback on the level of services offered by all 144 local authorities in the peninsula via the Prime Minister’s Department’s online survey.

They can, among others, assess counter services and the courtesy of counter staff and how telephone calls and complaints are managed.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) would use information from the survey to further improve the delivery system.

Mampu director-general Datuk Normah Md Yusof said complaints that needed urgent attention would be given to the respective city halls, district or municipal councils.

“This feedback will also act as a yardstick to assess how effective are the improvements made by the local authorities.

“The services provided by local authorities have an impact on the everyday lives of the people, be they residents or those involved in commercial activities,” she said.

It is understood that the feedback would also be used to conduct spot checks on local authorities.

The survey, comprising 24 questions, covers office environment, counter service, services provided by the local authority, complaint management, website and telephone call management.

The survey form, accessible at www.gov.my under the quick links – local authority feedback, allows the public to give suggestions on ways to improve services by local authorities.

18 September 2007

Shahrir: Don’t look for instant results


KUALA LUMPUR: Do not expect instant action to be taken on the findings of the Auditor-General’s Report, said Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad.

"This is not as fast as reality TV shows.

"The person involved won’t get fired by the next show," he said, adding that the committee would sit on Sept 25 and 26 to discuss the report.

He felt that the public should give the relevant parties some time to do their work.

"I’m surprised (that everyone wants things to be done so quickly)," he said.
Noting that several individuals had condemned the civil service following the report, he said:

"You cannot assume that the civil service is not improving.

"In fact, the new ways of implementing projects — the direct negotiations and turnkey method — brought out the issues in the first place."

He said the public should appreciate the fact that such a report was published.

"It has been laid out openly. The first step is already taken. If these people (the auditors) didn’t do their work then nobody would know. We should appreciate that."

He noted that the situation was a vast improvement from 10 years ago, when it was difficult to even get the annual accounts from government departments.

Meanwhile, PAC vice-chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said it was important that each government department involved gave a proper reason for inadequacies uncovered by the report.

Beri peluang guru maktab berpengalaman

Berita Harian

MUNGKIN ramai ibu bapa tidak menyedari anak mereka di sekolah rendah kini dibimbing guru berijazah. Bukan ingin menafikan keupayaan guru lepasan maktab perguruan, tapi kemampuan mereka selama ini membuktikan mutu kerja dan pengalaman mereka yang tidak berijazah setanding ketika mengajar di sekolah menengah mahupun rendah.

Seperti prinsip bekerja digariskan oleh Menteri Pelajaran sendiri berkaitan penyelarasan dan kerjasama berpasukan sangat penting untuk mengelakkan sebarang pertindihan dan pembaziran.

Guru berijazah menjadi input kepada Kementerian Pelajaran bagi sesebuah penilaian kejayaan program dan projek pendidikan seperti digariskan. Namun, sejauh mana keperluan jika guru berijazah dalam bidang Sejarah atau Geografi yang banyak di sekolah rendah sekadar mengajar Pendidikan Jasmani, Kajian Tempatan atau Bahasa Malaysia di sekolah rendah.

Apalagi guru lulusan Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah (KPLI) yang memiliki kelulusan dan pengalaman kerja dalam bidang akaun, guaman atau kejuruteraan hanya sekadar mengajar Bahasa Inggeris untuk pelajar Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) di sekolah rendah.

Saya juga berpendapat bahawa guru berpengalaman lebih 10 tahun di sekolah rendah hendaklah diletakkan di sekolah menengah selepas mendapat ijazah. Begitu juga guru sekolah rendah yang berpengalaman mendisiplinkan pelajar hendaklah diberikan tanggungjawab mendisiplinkan pelajar sekolah menengah.

Lebih menarik lagi jika peluang kenaikan pangkat sebagai pengetua diberikan kepada mereka, apatah lagi bakal pengetua cemerlang? Apakah guru berijazah yang kekal di sekolah rendah berpeluang menjadi pengetua? Atau ketua bidang? Peluang sebegini hanya untuk guru berijazah di sekolah menengah.

Keterbukaan terhadap idea dan bentuk baru perkongsian pintar amat penting. Malaysia perlu belajar daripada pengalaman pelbagai pihak dan negara lain serta sensitif terhadap setiap perkembangan terbaru serta kehendak pendidikan pada peringkat antarabangsa.

Bayangkan seorang guru berijazah di sekolah rendah sedang menyiapkan tesis ijazah sarjana yang semakin ramai di universiti sekarang. Untuk tesis ijazah sarjana sudah pasti guru itu memiliki pengetahuan luas mengenai bidang kajiannya.

Keterbukaan idea baru dan bentuk perkongsian ilmu secara pintar tidak akan menjadi satu perkembangan jika guru itu berada di sekolah rendah. Wajar Kementerian Pelajaran mengambil kesempatan meletakkan guru sebegini di sekolah menengah.

Mungkin benar ramai guru berijazah di sekolah rendah tidak mahu terbabit dengan tekanan kerja di sekolah menengah. Namun, ada baiknya pihak kementerian mengeluarkan tawaran dan mampu membuat pemilihan yang baik untuk memancing guru berijazah di sekolah rendah ke sekolah menengah.

Bagi memastikan kejayaan program pendidikan yang dirancang, ia perlu disokong dengan sumber yang mencukupi dari segi tenaga, peruntukan kewangan dan kepakaran.

Perubahan status guru sekolah menengah dan rendah tidak membabitkan keperluan kewangan dan boleh dilakukan pada peringkat jabatan pelajaran negeri. Langkah ini perlu bagi memantapkan evolusi pendidikan negara serta selaras dengan lapan prinsip bekerja yang digariskan oleh Menteri Pelajaran baru-baru ini.

Kuala Lumpur.

17 September 2007

JPJ hanya beri cuti Aidilfitri dua hari

Berita Harian

Oleh Abdul Razak Raaff

KUALA LUMPUR: Kira-kira 1,500 penguat kuasa Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ), yang akan bertugas sepanjang Ops Sikap di seluruh negara bermula bulan depan, hanya diberi cuti pelepasan dua hari iaitu pada hari pertama dan kedua Aidilfitri secara bergilir-gilir.

Langkah itu bertujuan memudahkan pihak berkuasa terbabit menggerakkan kekuatan anggotanya untuk memastikan keberkesanan operasi yang bertujuan mengurangkan kemalangan jalan raya pada musim perayaan, seperti sebelum ini.

Pengarah Penguat Kuasa JPJ, Salim Parlan, berkata keputusan memberi cuti hanya dua hari, secara bergilir itu sudah diputuskan dalam satu mesyuarat baru-baru ini, bagi memudahkan pihaknya menggerakkan mereka sepanjang Ops Sikap.

Beliau berkata, pihaknya sudah mengeluarkan pekeliling mengenai perkara itu kepada Pengarah JPJ di setiap negeri selain memberi peringatan kepada penguat kuasa mengenai tugas dan tanggungjawab mereka.

"Kita bekukan cuti, tetapi mereka akan diberi pelepasan pada Aidilfitri dan sehari selepasnya secara bergilir untuk beraya bersama keluarga sebelum bertugas semula. Kita harap keluarga mereka memahami tanggungjawab mereka kepada negara," katanya ketika dihubungi di sini semalam.

Salim berkata, mengenai Ops Sikap bagi musim perayaan kali ini, penguat kuasa JPJ akan ditempatkan di semua jalan utama termasuk lebuh raya di kawasan berisiko tinggi yang sudah dikenal pasti sering berlaku kemalangan.

Ambil pencen, ibu dihantar ke rumah orang tua

Berita Harian

MARANG: Timbalan Menteri Sumber Manusia, Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar mendedahkan sikap buruk segelintir anak tidak bertanggungjawab yang sanggup mengambil wang pencen ibu yang kini ditempatkan di Rumah Sejahtera Taman Bahagia (RSTB).

Beliau berkata, ada yang mengambil semua pencen ibu mereka setiap bulan tanpa meninggalkan wang saku untuk kegunaan orang tuanya yang ditempatkan di RSTB, Bukit Payong, dekat sini.

Katanya, perkara itu amat memalukan kerana sebagai anak seharusnya bertanggungjawab menjaga ibu bapa yang sudah berumur, bukannya diserahkan ke-pada badan kebajikan.

"Saya kesal dengan kejadian ini kerana anak tidak harus mengambil wang milik ibu bapa mereka serta membiarkan orang lain menjaganya disebabkan mereka sudah tua," katanya ketika ditemui pada majlis berbuka puasa bersama penghuni RSTB di sini, kelmarin.

Abdul Rahman yang juga Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kebajikan dan Pembangunan Masyarakat (Mayang) Parlimen Marang berkata, pihaknya mengesan dua kes seperti itu berlaku di RSTB dan meminta anak penghuni terbabit supaya lebih bertanggungjawab terhadap orang tua mereka.

Beliau yang juga Ahli Parlimen Marang berkata RSTB yang masih mempunyai 50 tempat kosong, kini dihuni 28 orang, termasuk dua keturunan India dan seorang Cina.

Auditor-General’s Report: Excellent job


I REFER to your report "Same old story year in, year out" (NST, Sept 12) on the Auditor-General’s Report for 2006.

What is distressing is that such mismanagement of tax- payers’ money does not seem to be isolated incidences but part of a general malaise that has crept into many areas of the civil service.

Many of the departments in all the states appear to be involved in misuse of public money. There are set procedures and protocol for financial dealings, purchases and transactions. Why are these being ignored?
Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and his team should be commended for the excellent job they have done to expose the weaknesses in the financial mismanagement of the various departments.

We hope all department heads do their duty to check these abuses. The ball is now in the court of our leaders. Do they have the will to stop this misuse of public funds?