By Syed Akbar Ali
Someone said that the Premiership of Dato Najib could also turn out to be a 'zaman pukul habis’. I will explain this at the end of this article. First here is something from Tun Dr Mahathir.
Tun Dr Mahathir is stirring up a real can of worms over at his Blog. Please read it here. I will reproduce the first part of what he has written.
Where has the money gone to?
"I reproduce here the payments made by Petronas to the Federal Government since 1976. That year the Government received RM300 million. The amount increased to RM2 billion in 1981. By 2003 it paid RM15.6 billion to the Federal Government.
The total from 1981 to 2003 is RM168.8 billion in 22 years.
From then onwards it increased from RM19 billion in 2004 to RM67.8 billion in 2009. The total for six years is RM253.6 billion. I am sure the Government had spent the money wisely. It would be interesting to know what the RM253.6 billion was spent on."
Throughout Dr Mahathir’s 22 year tenure, Petronas contributed RM169 Billion to the Government’s coffers. Some of this money was spent on the Penang Bridge, the highways, the flyovers around Kuala Lumpur, new roads, Temenggor Dam, Kenyir Dam, Bakun Dam, Batu Dam, Kuala Kubu Dam, bridges, 2nd Link to Singapore, Port Klang, Westport, Northport, Pasir Gudang, KLIA, Penang Airport, LRTs, double tracking, electrification of the railways, Keretapi Komuter, ERL, the 80 or so Government Universities in the country, numerous hospitals (Serdang Hospital, Selayang Hospital), KLCC, KL Tower, F1 Circuit, Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Air Keroh Melaka, Sri Manjong Perak, the vast Commonwealth Games complex in Bukit Jalil, the IJN, Proton, Perwaja, MAS etc. This list is not exhaustive - please feel free to add anything that I may have missed.
Of course we can argue whether we paid market rates or did we overpay for all these things. Was there corruption involved? Of course there was. We cannot deny that. Of course we overpaid on some of these things. And some of them like the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex are not fully utilized till today.
But the product is there. The bridges are all still standing. The KLIA was built under four years. The North South Highway was built under five years. The KLCC is now tenanted. Putrajaya is filling up, slowly but surely. The LRTs and the Komuter trains are now overpacked.
The results of all that spending are there. The handiwork of Dr Mahathir’s 22 years of building up this country is there for all to see. In many areas our country has First World infrastructure.
Dr Mahathir did this with RM169 Billion contribution from Petronas over 22 years – or averaging about RM7.7 Billion per year (plus of course other Federal and State revenues too).
In the six short, uneventful, sleepy, non performing, lackadaisical years under Abdullah Badawi, Petronas had contributed RM254 Billion to the Government’s coffers. That works out to about RM42.3 Billion per year.
So where is the new Penang Bridge, new highways, new flyovers around Kuala Lumpur, new roads, new Dam, bridges, ports, new airports, double tracking, new LRT extensions, new trains, new Universities, a new KLCC, new KL Tower, extra F1 Circuit, another Putrajaya or Cyberjaya, another Air Keroh Melaka, another Sri Manjong in Perak, a new IJN and so on.
Can anyone point to anything substantial in this country that was built in the six sleepy years of the Badawi Administration? The answer is a resounding NO. I do not even know of a badminton court built under the Badawi Administration.
So where did the RM254 Billion Petronas contribution over the six years go to?
Some nasty commentors on Tun’s Blog have said that Tun took some of the money during his 22 year tenure. I really don’t think that a man who is out of power and whose children are still in the prime of their life will be so foolish to start poking a hornet’s nest to question where the money went to if indeed he himself had stashed away some of the money? Its really not a very clever thing to do. And Tun Dr Mahathir is not an unclever person at all.
And if Tun had indeed stashed away some of that money, why would Tun suddenly now, on a bright sunny day in July 2009, decide to stir up this issue ? Some sort of death wish perhaps ? I don’t think so. The man wants to know where the money went. His frankness and his forthrightness leads me to believe that he himself has nothing to be afraid of.
Now comes the subject of my Blog today. Lets keep a close watch on the GLCs. They are becoming the Government Losing Concerns.
They don’t deal in just millions or tens of millions. The GLCs are spending our money in the hundreds of millions and billions of Ringgit. And no one questions them. Its all “within their KPIs”.
For some proper perpective, lets compare the GLCs with the State Governments. The State Governments are now either BN or Pakatan. In every State Assembly, the Wakil Rakyat argue and debate over every bit of spending by the State Government, even spending RM60,000 on a bus stop. Of course it does not stop things like the PKFZ from happening but n’theless there is debate. And when things go wrong, again as in the PKFZ, the stuff really hits the fan. The Opposition (as well as the Government too) goes to town with it.
In the Parliament, the MPs also debate Government spending though I must say that our Opposition MPs are the most unintelligent, ill prepared and ‘don’t know anything’ bunch of clowns ever among Opposition politicians. When there are so many potent and potential issues to discuss they waste time about things like the DNA Bill, the ISA, Bubar Dun and other such riff raff. They waste so much time.
But back to the GLCs, when the GLCs spend billions of Ringgit, no one knows about it. There is no debate. The biggest GLC of all Khazanah Nasional Berhad does not even present its accounts to the public.
May I ask a simple question ? Why not ?
When they are spending hundreds of millions and billions of Ringgit of tax payers money, we want to know how they are spending it. And we want to know it yesterday. I think the time has come where the Government has no choice but to be just forthright and transparent.
Stop playing this hide and seek game. Lama-lama the seekers will overcome the hiders.
I have to say something about ‘zaman pukul habis’. This phrase was first mentioned during the time of Slumberjack. As it became clear that Slumberjack was snoring his way through the PM’s job and would lose big in the elections, there was the fear that his cronies would ‘pukul habis’ every single sen they could put in their pockets. Why? Because they knew that their Boss would not last long.
Unfortunately the same thing is being heard now. People say that because there is a doubt if the BN Government will last or be strong enough after the next general Elections, there are people who also want to ‘pukul habis’ or grab as much as they can, while they can.
This type of behaviour should be strongly discouraged. A simple and painless way to do it would be to just have more transparency.We want the GLCs especially Khazanah Nasional Berhad to make their accounts public.