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Monday, December 9, 2013

Khairy warns Umno of public wrath at graft amid rising living costs

DECEMBER 7, 2013
UPDATED: DECEMBER 07, 2013 04:34 PM
khairy jamaluddin
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — A failure to rein in government wastage and corruption at a time of subsidy cutbacks and a rise in living costs would only enrage Malaysians, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin warned his party today.

Khairy, who is also the Youth and Sports Minister, cited the wastage highlighted in the latest Auditor-General’s Report as an example, and noted that Malaysians would inevitably be forced to tighten their belts when electricity tariffs are increased next month and the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) be implemented in 2015.

“When we ask the people to tighten their belts, they are willing to do so as they understand the condition of the economy,” said Khairy in his closing speech at the Umno general assembly here today.

“But when they see wastage and mismanagement, as shown by the Auditor-General’s Report, they will feel angry,” he added.

Among the wastage highlighted in the Auditor-General’s 2012 Report were the loss of police equipment worth RM1.33 million — including guns and handcuffs — in the past three years, the Health Ministry’s RM320,000 dubious spending on social media campaigns, and the Education Ministry’s failure to manage private security contractors at schools that cost RM2 billion.

Chief Secretary of the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa reportedly said last October that a special committee, which he will chair, has been formed to study the A-G’s 2012 report. It will include the Director-General of Public Service and Attorney-General, while representatives from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Finance Ministry and the police force will also be present.

Khairy voiced today his support for the committee.

“We ask the people to tighten their belts, we introduce all sorts of hikes, but if no action is taken against those who are clearly corrupt, who clearly mismanage public funds and the like, they will feel angry,” he said.

Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, however, said last October that the revelations of mismanagement of taxpayers’ funds in the latest A-G report did yet require the convening of the Putrajaya Inquisition, which is a committee chaired by the prime minister that is meant to clear old cases found in previous national audit reports.

Khairy also said today that youth concerns of the rising cost of living, amid stagnant salaries, must be addressed.

“The rising cost of living is a reality; they’re not just talking about living luxuriously,” he said.

“Seventy-five per cent of youths living in the city who earn less than RM3,000 a month have nothing left at the end of the month after paying for their car and food. They’re in economic distress,” added the Rembau MP.

Khairy further urged the country’s most powerful political party to reach out to 17 and 18-year-olds to gain their support by the time the teenagers reach the voting age of 21.

“If we don’t reach them while they’re still in school, we’ll miss out on a huge vote bank,” he said.

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