By Mariam Mokhtar

With a new government, in Putrajaya, and a new Pakatan Harapan administration in Perak, will the MB of Perak and his exco members, ensure that the procurement system for government departments is scrutinised with a fine tooth comb?

Will the new state government also investigate the various allegations made against the previous administration? How much more of the state’s coffers should end up in the hands of a few? Why do we waste our resources making some people rich, when the money could be used to uplift the lives of Perakians?

Tongues should wag, when people who held middle ranking jobs within the government service lead the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The signs were there. The expensive properties. The designer watches. The expensive cars. The Rosmah Mansor inspired handbags. The foreign holidays. Perhaps, if one were to visit their homes, one would be hit by the ostentatious, vulgar furniture, like the Louis Farouk imitation antiques.

Some of you may recall the corruption scandal in the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), which occurred in 2015. It involved personnel from the purchasing department at the Depot Bekalan Armada (Fleet supply depot), in Lumut.

The warning about unscrupulous staff manipulating the system had previously been made, by the Retired First Admiral, Mohamad Imran Abdul Hamid. He warned his superiors of the possibility that the purchasing department, which operated a three-tier procurement system, could be open to abuse.

Civilian suppliers were allowed to fraternise and become too familiar, with the purchasing officers. Naval staff were open to influence from their superiors. Unscrupulous naval staff could manipulate the system, because of the length of time, they had occupied their positions and been able to study the procurement process, and devise methods for milking the system.

Imran suggested a tightening of the procedures for the purchase of goods and the transfer of staff on a regular basis, to prevent any abuse of the system.

Goods were marked-up, by, at least six times and the auditor-general questioned the high cost of goods in his annual report. Something worth only RM30,000 was being sold to the navy for RM180,000.

An unnamed MACC employee had already warned that staff had been milking the system for five to ten years. How many other government departments suffer in the same way?

The following year, the Ipoh Sessions Court fined former RMN officer, Lieutenant Commander Khairul Izwan Mohd Khir, RM100,000, and seized his property, which was valued at RM1.6 million. When he visited Kuala Lumpur, he had accepted a RM19,000 Bell & Ross watch, for his help in facilitating a supply deal, to the navy.

Khairul had the previous year, pleaded not guilty to the six corruption charges levelled against him, involving the supply of RM1.5 million of goods to the navy, but he later changed his plea, to guilty.

The signs of the accumulation of wealth had been noticeable for some time. Why wasn’t he jailed as well? Why charge him in a civilian court, initially at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, and then at the Ipoh Sessions Court? Why was he not court martialled?

The Lumut scandal was alleged to have come to light only after rival navy personnel were envious of the activities and multi million ringgit perks, of the syndicate. What happened to their loyalty to king and country? They must have seen that this was wrong, but only reported the activities because they were envious of the lifestyles of the cheats.

Are they not aware that these men were thieves and taking duit rakyat? The money saved could have been used to uplift the lives of the navy families, especially the failing lift systems in the Lumut navy flats.

The same lack of morals was recently exhibited by some supporters of the disgraced former PM, Najib Abdul Razak, in Kuala Lumpur.

Naziilah Idris, who is the chief of the NGO Gabungan Gerakan Selangor, claimed that there was nothing wrong with the haul of 72 bags of cash, in a variety of currencies, jewellery, 284 boxes of high-end designer handbags and possibly gold bars, from two condominium units, in Kuala Lumpur, linked to Najib.

She dismissed the haul of money and goods, because Najib is the son of a former prime minister, a blueblood, and has been well-off before he became a Menteri Besar.

She must do more reading about the lives of our past PMs. Najib’s father, Razak was frugal. Nazri, who is Najib’s younger brother, said that when they were young children, he and his siblings had asked their father if a swimming pool could be built at Seri Taman, the PM’s residence.

Razak gave them an earful, for wanting to waste public money, and said that he would not allow a frivolous thing to be built with money that could be used to benefit the rakyat.

If Puan Nazzilah were a bit more aware of her surroundings, she would realise that not all bluebloods are rich. There are many who are poor, and a good number who live very well, because of the rakyat.

Najib became an MP soon after his father died. He returned home and won a by-election. Some allege that he never finished his course at university. He may have had a stint in Petronas, but he could not have become rich during that time. Puan Nazzilah said he was an MB. Yes, he could have made some of his money from that time.

There are allegations that MBs make money through the sale of state land and the issuance of timber and mining leases. That is something the MACC will have to dig up, from Najib’s past, and the more recent, and current, MBs, from Perak, Pahang and Johor.

Is Naziilah impressionable, or in denial? Perhaps, she lives in a bubble, or is trapped under her tempurung (shell)?

The people must be willing to report the civil servants, who live like kings and queens, to the authorities, for a thorough investigation.