States Do Not Have The Moral Authority To Collect Quit Rent Arrears Of RM 2 Billion If They Do Not Show Leadership By Example But Practices Double-Standards When BN Component Parties Can Owe Quit Rent Without Any Action Taken Against Them
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP is not surprised at the frustration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in calling on state governments to start improving their revenue collection methods to recover some RM 2 billion in quit rent and assessment arrears to implement development programmes without depending too much on Federal aid and loans.
DAP doubts that these states possess the moral authority to collect quit rent arrears of RM 2 billion when they do not show leadership by example but practices double-standards when BN component parties are allowed to owe quit rent without any action taken against them. In a reply to Melaka State Assembly Opposition Leader and DAP ADUN for Kota Laksamana Betty Chew Gek Cheng on 26 October 2004, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Mohd. Ali Rustam revealed that BN political parties owed a total of RM 140,828.69 comprising:
It is indeed shocking how UMNO Kota Melaka can be allowed to owe quit rent for 25 years of RM 83,701.15 and UMNO Jasin allowed to owe cukai pintu for 18 years of RM 83,701.15 without any action taken. UMNO and MCA should be ashamed for not respecting the law even though they are the government.
When pressed by Betty Chew why no action was taken by the state government to get repayment of arrears or confiscate the property, the state government merely replied that notices have been sent out and consideration have been given for instalment payments. In other words, UMNO Kota Melaka, Jasin and Selandar have not even started paying up RM 140,000 with a combined 52 years in arrears. How then can state governments improve its revenue collection method by collecting arrears when BN political parties enjoy legal immunity without fear of their property being confiscated?
For Every Ringgit Of Debt
In Melaka Is Only Backed By 1 Cent!
Clearly the Melaka state government has practiced double-standards by not enforcing the law when there have been cases where land has been confiscated by the State government even though only 2 years of quit rent arrears is owed. I would not be surprised if other state governments practices similar irresponsible, unaccountable and untrustworthy management.
Last month Auditor-General Tan Sri Dr Hadenan A. Jalil said that apart from Penang, Sarawak, Selangor and Malacca, most states were financially mismanaged and on the brink of bankruptcy. Even though Melaka was not on the list, Melakaís financial position can not be considered healthy when its debt of RM 849 million is only backed by current assets of RM 10 million or for every ringgit of debt it is backed only by 1 cent.
To save Malaysian states from financial bankruptcy, the Auditor-General must be given powers to punish government officers who fail to carry out their duties or directives by the Audit Department. As a first step, officials who fail to enforce the law, follow the Auditor-Generalís directive or collect arrears of more than 10 years should be disciplined and punished.
To show that the government is serious about stopping double-standards and fair to all, properties owed by political parties such as UMNO and MCA with long-standing quit rent or assessment arrears should be immediately confiscated. Only by taking stern action against ruling component BN parties who break the law (ďkilling the monkey to frighten the chicken), can the government succeed in collecting RM 2 billion in quit rent and assessment arrears.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General