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Why is there not a single person charged for making multiple flood relief claims out of the 3,492 families who have cheated the State government of RM 698,400?
by Lim Guan Eng
(Melaka, Tuesday): DAP expressed shock that the Melaka State government can just sit idly by without taking any action even though it claimed of being cheated of RM 698,400 in financial aid meant for flood victims. Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam claimed today that a total of 3,492 families have been identified as either making multiple claims for the RM 200 monetary aid or made fraudulent claims issued since December 2006.
Computer checks had showed multiple claims while checks on the ground showed some of the homes had been vacant for years. Amongst the fraudulent methods used were using abandoned homes to submit claims, adding an alphabet to their house number, claiming for financial aid for a house which had been vacant for years, changing the spelling of their names, landlords making claims when houses were rented to others.
Some actions are wrong and can be punished under many laws, the simplest being an offence of cheating under Section 415 of the Penal Code. Punishment for cheating under Section 417 is imprisonment for five years or a fine or both. Why is there not a single person charged for making multiple flood relief claims out of the 3,492 persons or families who have cheated the state government of RM 698,400?
I have copies of police reports from a few families who could not receive either RM 200 flood aid or RM 500 furniture aid because some one else had claimed the money on their behalf. Despite lodging police reports more than one month ago, not a single person has been prosecuted for cheating. Worse, the victims of such cheating can still not claim their financial aid.
To date, 19,389 claims have been filed and RM 3,877,000 distributed of which only 16,347 were genuine claims. With 18% of the claims fraudulent, this is a shocking rate of cheating that shows the failure of management and internal controls in the Melaka state administration. The State Auditor-General should do an emergency audit to determine why the government can be cheated so easily and whether any government officials were involved in such abuses of power.
Since the RM500 financial aid is given out in cheques, why can't the cheques not be distributed personally to the houses of the flood victims to ensure there is no cheating. Government officials should work harder by personally distributing such aid to their homes to guarantee that genuine victims receive assistance.
Such cheating is not only a criminal offence but also immoral because flood victims suffer more by not receiving sorely needed financial aid. By not receiving any assistance due to them since the floods in December last year has only cruelly added on to the burdens of flood victims. Any failure by the Melaka Chief Minister to take stern action against such offenders would only be seen as condoning such acts.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP