Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Concentration of powers in hands of Finance Minister needs review, says Ku Li

Former Finance Minister Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says the Financial Procedure Act 1957 gives the minister full powers to decide on any government financial matter, leaving it open to abuse if the minister is so inclined. ― AFP picFormer Finance Minister Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says the Financial Procedure Act 1957 gives the minister full powers to decide on any government financial matter, leaving it open to abuse if the minister is so inclined. ― AFP picKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 ― Former Finance Minister Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today mooted a review of the extensive powers given to the Finance Minister in managing the nation's money, in a bid to promote greater transparency in Putrajaya's dealings.
He said the Financial Procedure Act 1957 gives the minister full powers to decide on any government financial matter, leaving it open to abuse if the minister is so inclined.
“There are a lot of loopholes. For example direct negotiation (of projects). The Finance Minister can decide to just award projects that way,” he said at a news conference after opening a seminar of dealing with the Ali Baba menace organised by the Malay Economic Consultative Council (MTEM).
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is also finance minister at present.
Ali Baba is a uniquely Malaysian term to describe deals where Bumiputera businesses secure government deals through Putrajaya's affirmative action policy, only to pass them on to a non-Bumiputera partner for a share of the money.
Tengku Razaleigh said it is incumbent on Putrajaya to make it the norm to have open tenders so that the public knows they get their money's worth.
He stressed that he is not criticising the Barisan Nasional-led federal government, but merely “pointing out” the potential for abuse of the minister's powers.
“If we want to take control of corruption, we must look at the Financial Procedure Act,” he said.
The Gua Musang MP added this review should take place alongside a review of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, with the possibility of getting rid of the law.
He argued that the OSA has long been used to hide the truth behind many of the government's dealings, as it gives Putrajaya wide powers to pursue whistleblowers even if they have incriminating evidence of wrongdoings.
“I am suggesting a review, because the OSA has hidden thousands of sins, probably,” he said.
To give the fight against corruption more teeth, Tengku Razaleigh also proposed a review of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009, to incorporate wider powers for the MACC to be more effective in weeding out perpetrators.
He said there are salient provisions from Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Ordinance ― on which the MACC is modelled ― that were not included in Malaysia's version of the graft busters.
“Somehow we missed salient provisions in the Hong Kong law, which helped bring corruption near to zilch there. This needs to be relooked.
“I particularly want to see not just the corrupt taken to book, but even their nominee, trustees... it should not be necessary for SPRM to go to court to reveal who these nominees are,” he said, referring to the Malay acronym for the MACC.
The ICAC was created in 1974 to tackle chronic corruption in Hong Kong, with officers given wide powers to investigate, arrest and prosecute graft suspects.
The ICAC is credited with nearly eradicating corruption in the former British protectorate, and is considered one of the most effective anti-graft bodies in the world.
Ku Li should take over as PM from Najib as he make a BETTER PM than Najib. This country is going down the drain under the current administration. We need a moderate, FAIR and STRONG PM to lead the nation. He due to his age should lead us at least temporarily as long as he can.

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