PM warns of stern action against those who abuse public funds

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2: In emphasising the importance of governance reforms to address the wastage of public funds, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said stern action will be taken against any officer or minister involved in the abuse of power that caused leakages of public funds.

The prime minister said he does not want the issue of corruption and governance to be taken lightly because it can cause losses to public funds as the matter had been frequently brought up in the previous Auditor-General’s Reports (LKAN).

 “We must take note of such experiences (abuse of power and leakages) and I want to stress that they cannot be repeated…because we have decided to take action as soon as it is confirmed.

“Officers, managers or ministers or anyone responsible must be dealt with, this also includes the unsatisfactory management of government company funds,” said Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, when wrapping up the debate on the Supply Bill 2024 at the policy level at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said the government went through several experiences, including the auditing warnings regarding procurements as reported in the LKAN and Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and cited examples like the 104 malfunctioning ventilators out of the 136 acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic and the RM505 million loss as a result of 8.5 million doses of expired vaccines.  

Anwar said a briefing by the Auditor-General regarding the results of the latest audit showed that the main findings were the loss of nearly RM700 million in public funds involving the management of the national paddy planting programme; property development management by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA); and regulations related to firearms under the Home Ministry. 

When Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (MUDA) interjected to ask about allocations for opposition members of  Parliament, Anwar said the matter had been tasked to the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof together with a committee that had been set up.

“… like how we used to do it during the time of Bera (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob), there is engagement, negotiations have parameters, we negotiate, we move on. I didn’t budge from that stance. If you want to say ‘tyrannical’, it means that the previous government was (also) tyrannical for not giving (allocations).

“Larut (MP Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin) also knows, negotiate. If it is reasonable, we have no qualms about approving it. To say (we) do not have allocations is incorrect, the allocations for MPs is a decision to be made later, not a right, the right is to give enough allocations to the people, not MPs. The elected representatives have rights, they have salaries and allowances,” he said.  

When Datuk Khlir Mohd Nor (PN-Ketereh) interjected to ask about adjustments to pensions for military personnel, Anwar said a study had been conducted by the Secretariat at the Public Service Department (JPA) for comprehensive coordination, including retired military veterans.

“So give me a little more time, I give an assurance that I do not want the JPA to push aside the application of any party, we ask together with the KSN (Chief Secretary to the Government) and KPPA (Director-General of Public Service) to conduct a comprehensive study to ensure that no one is left out,” he said.

On the use of Bahasa Melayu for official letters, Anwar explained that this only applies to all government departments and local companies while international companies are excluded.