[Governance] Caught!

This has be chortling with glee. It is VERY obvious that Selangor’s previous state government has been under some really shoddy governance. Khir Toyo(l), what say you now?

Mystery date keeps everyone puzzled

Kuala Selangor district officers could not give direct answers as to why they have approved RM500,000 in allocation for the Ijok constituency on Feb 12, 2008 – a day before the dissolution of the state assembly in the wake of last year’s general election.

Testifying in front of the Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) public inquiry today, Assistant District Officer Idzhar Rasidi said that he had only “approved any applications by signing the vouchers so payments could be completed”.

Unsatisfied with his answer, one of the members on the public inquiry panel, Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyperson Azmin Ali, argued as to why Feb 12 was chosen by most district officers in other constituencies to approve the allocation vouchers.

“For me, this date is a mystery date for all of us because (almost) all district offices such as Gombak, Petaling and Klang used the same date (to approve the vouchers).

“There must be some directive from someone on that day to speed up the process of the allocation vouchers so they could be used as soon as possible,” implied Azmin.

However, when asked to explain further, Idzhar could not give a clear picture as the district officer he was working under was no longer in charge because he had already left the office just before the general election.

“I cannot comment much because the former district officer is not here but there is a possibly that there was a directive (from the previous state government),” he said, adding that he needed help to answer the question from his officer Norafzati Jantra.

Release funds ‘as soon as possible’

Meanwhile finance department officer Norafzati said it is not necessary for the fund’s application date of applications to be accurate as the district offices might have received them at a later date.

According to her, there was a sudden increase of applications on Feb 12 and the office had cleared all 85 applications worth RM449,500 from the assemblypersons in the district.

“So I prepared the vouchers for the payments to be disbursed on Feb 12 and signed them the day after that,” she said, further agreeing to Azmin’s suggestion that this process was hastened because of the general election.

“It is also true that the assemblypersons had asked for the funds to be released as soon as possible,” she said, not revealing who the assemblypersons were.

Idzhar and his team of officers were at the fourth district office to testify before the Selcat public inquiry.

The hearing is to investigate the expenditure of assemblypersons in the state from Jan 2008 to June 2009 and to determine how more than RM2.7 million allocated to 54 former assemblypersons (who mostly lost their seats in the last general election) were spent within the first three months of 2008.

The public hearing was chaired by state assembly speaker Teng Chang Khim (right) and assisted by deputy speaker Haniza Mohamed Talha, Bukit Gasing assemblyperson Edward Lee, Hulu Kelang assemblyperson Shaari Sungib, together with Azmin.

This hearing began on Tuesday and is scheduled to go on from Sept 8 to 11 and Sept 15, at the state legislative assembly building.

Payments for projects went on even though state assembly was dissolved

According to Idzhar, the district office would also allow any payments for projects promised by a particular state rep even though the state assembly was dissolved at that time.

He said, it was their “social responsibility” to the people and they had to fulfill their promises for instance, to build a surau as “they would be answerable to Allah in the afterlife”.

“Some have fulfilled their promises because they did not know that the state assembly would be dissolved. As a Muslim, they should fulfill it otherwise he would need to answer to God in the afterlife,” said Idzhar, drawing laughter from those present.

But Azmin reminded him that he too, would be answerable to Allah in the afterlife as he should be accountable for his actions.

Azmin: This is the people’s money and every cent is important. Do you think it was wise for the annual allocation to be spent in the first two or three months of the year?

Idzhar: It is okay if the allocations are fully spent between September and December but it is not healthy for an annual allocation to be spent within the first two or three months of the year. We would not know if we would need it at the end of the year especially for emergency such as natural disaster.

Azmin: So why didn’t you advise them (the assemblypersons)?

Idzhar: Who am I to give advice?

Azmin: You are an assistant district officer and you are a high-ranked officer. Allah will ask you why you did not advise these Umno leaders as taxpayer’s money was spent and the new administration had to allocate more funds for the new state reps to serve their constituents.

To which, Idzhar replied that he is in the position of a ‘cucumber being rolled around a durian’ – a Malay saying that it would be hurt in any direction it turned to.

“So I chose not to advise them because it is always hard to deal with politicians,” he said