Alor Gajah Municipal Council A Disgrace
For Giving More Emphasis To Junket Trips To Australia That Wastes
Public Funds Than Speeding Up The Distribution Of Desperately Needed
Assistance To Fire Victims Of The Alor Gajah Market In July 2003
by Lim Guan Eng
The Alor Gajah Municipal Council (AGMC) is a disgrace for giving more
emphasis to junket trips to Australia that wastes public funds than speeding
up the distribution of desperately needed financial assistance to the fire
victims of the Alor Gajah market. The 14 hawkers who were severely affected
by the fire that swept the Alor Gajah market in July 2003 were promised
RM1,000 each by the then Minister of Human Resources Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn
to help them cover some of their losses in the fire.
For over 5 months, the 14 hawkers comprising of 9 Chinese 1 Indian and 4
Malays had waited in vain for the money to come. Even though the money is
now with the AGMC, the money can still not be distributed due to technical
problems. Apparently, the technical problems will only be sorted out before
Christmas. There is no reason why the RM 14,000 fire relief funds can not be
handed out immediately. Any technical problems should be given utmost
priority to be sorted out as these are emergency funds sorely needed by fire
victims. The 5 months delay is highly irresponsible of AGMC and completely
unacceptable by the public.
What angered the fire victims even more is the suspicion that the AGMC is
not setting an earlier date for the distribution because they want to first
enjoy their junket trip to Australia beginning on 10.12.2003. Only upon
their return are they willing to get down to work to deal with the
'technical problem' and distribute the funds to the fire victims.
If this is true, then it is not only heartless but a gross dereliction of
duty by a government agency. AGMC should place its priorities right. Solving
and dealing with the people's hardships are more important than wasteful and
unnecessary junket trips to Australia that bring no benefit to the people
except for the personal pleasures of these irresponsible AGMC Councillors.
When I visited the market, one of the fire victims was furious, at the
inordinate delay. No explanation can justify the AGMC's MCA Councillors
inaction and inefficiency must be the worst in the country, they said.
Another complained that he is considering borrowing from loan sharks because
of the delay. He had tried borrowing from the Bank Pertanian Malaysia
Micro-credit Fund but was told that additional funds from the Ministry had
been frozen until next year.
Such hardships had unfortunately left the AGMC Councillors unmoved and
inert. Despite such displays of irresponsibility, AGMC Councillors were
still rewarded with a junket trip to Australia that is beyond comprehension.
Worse, some of these Councillors are retiring and since they are not slated
for reappointment next year, what benefit can they impart to the Council
from the lessons learnt from their so-called study tour to Australia?
The AGMC should not be allowed to go for their RM125,000/- junket trip to
Australia. They should stay back and focus on distributing the fire relief
funds to the fire victims. What type of caring society can Malaysians be
proud of if RM125,000 can be allocated almost immediately for a junket trip
but not a miserly RM 14,000 for 14 different fire victims for the past 5
* Lim Guan Eng,
Former DAP MP For Kota Melaka