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New government delivery system Abdullah is to unveil in ten days’ time must send blunt message that Malaysia under his watch will not degenerate from “First-World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” to “Third-World Infrastructure, Fourth-rate Mentality, Ninth-class Maintenance”


Media Statement      
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) : The new government delivery system the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is to unveil in ten days’ time must send out the blunt message that Malaysia under his watch will not degenerate from “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” to “Third-World Infrastructure, Fourth-rate Mentality, Ninth-class Maintenance”. 

When Abdullah became Prime Minister on October 31, 2003, he promised Malaysians one fundamental change – to eradicate  the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” malaise and propel the country to “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” status. 

After being Prime Minister for 47 months, there are not only no signs of any significant breakthrough for Malaysia make the transition from a  “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” malaise to a “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” status, there are more and more disturbing evidence of serious and rapid deterioration of the national condition towards a stage which is best described as “Third-World Infrastructure, Fourth-rate Mentality, Ninth-class Maintenance”! 

Never before in the 50-year history of the nation has the public service been seen as more inept and incompetent – with the unending list of “crack-ups” of new government buildings and public construction projects, whether the brand-new administrative capital of Putrajaya,  the RM270 million world’s second largest court complex in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, the Parliament Building after RM100 million renovation and the latest, the safety of the 15-storey Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry in Precinct  4, Putrajaya. 

It is reported today that a committee headed by the Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang is to inspect 72 government buildings in Putrajaya, 22 in Kuala Lumpur and another 168 rented offices in the wake of recent mishaps ranging from burst pipes to collapsed ceilings. 

Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had said early last month that RM22 million is needed to inspect new government buildings in Putrajaya for defects. Now that the scope of inspection has been widened to include 22 government buildings in Kuala Lumpur and another 168 rented offices, will the inspection costs come to a mammoth bill of close to RM100 million – without taking into account the even higher costs of the necessary repairs and renovations! 

However, the most important question about the scandal of new government building defects and mishaps has not been answered, viz:  what is fundamentally wrong with the public service that it is necessary to set up such a committee incurring such astronomical expenses just to inspect them in Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur when they have been built recently at the cost of billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money? 

Asked if the findings of the inspection would be published, Ambrin said that while he did not have a problem with it, the team had yet to decide on this. 

This is typical “Third-World Mentality” where accountability and transparency is the exception than the rule. The Malaysian public service cannot claim to be “First-World” until it is prepared to take accountability and transparency seriously, which includes respecting the right of information of Malaysian citizens and taxpayers – with disclosures of public information particularly of committees of inquiry into government failings accepted as the rule rather than the exception! 

All these are powerful testimony that under Abdullah’s watch as Prime Minister in the past 47 months, Malaysia has not been able  even to hold on to the status of “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” but has rapidly fallen backwards. 

Abdullah must be aware of the great letdown of his administration in the past 47 months, as his son-in-law, Deputy Umno Youth leader, Khairy Jamaluddin  (regarded by many as the most powerful man in the administration) has openly admitted that the Prime Minister’s was make a gross understatement when he coined the phrase “First-class Infrastructure, Third-Class Mentality”.  

Khairy (who probably coined the phrase in the first instance) now admits that “it’s becoming clear that the infrastructure, too, is third class, courtesy of third-rate minds and attitudes”. (New Sunday Times 3.6.07).  Is Khairy lambasting “third-rate minds and attitudes” in the government and Cabinet of his father-in-law? 

Abdullah has promised Malaysians a new public delivery system in 10 days on June 14. Nobody (and I suspect the Cabinet Ministers and top government officials as well) has any inkling what is this new government delivery system he would be announcing, but the least he must do is to assure Malaysians that as Prime Minister he would not preside over Malaysia becoming a “Third-World Infrastructure, Fourth-rate Mentality, Ninth-class Maintenance” even if he could not achieve the goal of a “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” nation.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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