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The Prime Minister must put personal feelings aside and root out shoddy ministers by transferring out Works Minister Datuk Samy Vellu to be the Minister Without Portfolio
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): To show that the government is serious about rooting out shoddy contractors and stopping the shameful incidents of water pipes bursting, ceilings falling and wall cracking on newly completed hundred million ringgit government buildings, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must show he means business by first rooting out shoddy ministers. The flash floods in Kuala Lumpur yesterday are symptomatic of either sloppy drain maintenance or slow construction of flood mitigation projects.
No one is frightened of government exhortations to be serious about their work, even if the Prime Minister himself personally conducts and inspection because they can excape unpunished? Are the people going to suffer from such incompetency? The time has come for drastic action against contractors and Ministers who fail to perform. As a first step the Prime Minister must put aside personal feelings and transfer out Works Minister Datuk Samy Vellu out to another Ministry.
As the MIC President, Datuk Samy must be appointed a Minister. Due to his inability to do his job well, Samy should be assigned to a Ministry where he can do the least harm and damage such as the Minister Without Portfolio. Samy had admitted that the Public Works Department (PWD) and the ministry were shamed and embarrassed by the incidents, until they had no face and had to hide at home after the broken water pipes at the Jalan Duta Court Complex.
On June 5, the RM 270 million Jalan Duta court complex was rocked by an explosion in its basement caused by a Co2 (Carbon Dioxide) valve, connected to a gas tank. Previously the court complex had been hit with a string of embarrassing problems, since it began operations in May, with cracks appearing on the building structure, frequent breakdown of the air-conditioning system, partial flooding of the cafeteria due to a burst water pipe joint and also damage to court files after sewerage overflowed in basement.
How can a Works Minister perform to his best capacity when he has no face and had to hide at home? Samy's competence is not only under question but his integrity and moral credibility is now in doubt following revelations that he plagiarised two short famous poems that he passed off as his written under his own pen in commemoration of Prime Minister's new marriage.
Malaysians are angry that despite spending RM 270 million to build the second largest court complex in the world, instead of feeling pride we feel shame at the poor quality of our construction work. Such failures only highlight the lack of transparency and accountability that resulted in poor delivery system.
The defects in the RM 270 million Court complex is not the only failed construction government project. There is also the shameful leakage in our 44-year old Parliament building. Before Parliament was renovated for RM 99 million, there were no leaks. Upon completion it has leaked twice and suffered from cracks and water seepage on the concrete roof, clogged gutters, defective waterproofing and sewerage pipe leaks at VIP and other toilets. Other faulty construction government projects are:-
1. On April 11, a burst pipe at the Immigration Department headquarters in Putrajaya caused widespread damage and brought daily operations to a halt. Operations resumed at 9am the next day;
2. On April 28, part of the ceiling of a multi-purpose hall at the Entrepreneurial Development and Co-operative Ministry in Putrajaya collapsed, causing a water pipe to drop and burst; and
3.. The Sultan Mahmud Airport in Terengganu was closed for night landings on two nights on 5 & 6 May 2007 because of a malfunction of the runway navigation lights.
The public has suffered enough and can no longer tolerate such wastage of public funds or public money spent in return for such shoddy work. Action must be taken against government officers who fail to carry out their duties professionally in supervising or approving the construction works and against errant contractors who must be penalized and made to pay for such shoddy work.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP