Take care and be safe during the holidays!
We find this new technology and idea very refreshing, innovative and not to mention will help reduce costs and increase environmental health.
This, and other forms of renewable energy is the way to go for the future.
What can we say about Anwar Ibrahim?
He had recently announced that Malaysian government is accusing the captain of the missing #MH370 flight as a potential hijacker.
This act which can only be described as an utterly vulgar political misinformation and distortion of facts, is a genuine act of desperation befitting someone who is grasping for any political mileage.
To make matters worse, CNN is now a party to it.
What he just did, not only unfair to the running investigation, but also disrespectful to the family members of the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah (53). Anwar Ibrahim had just used this unfortunate event and the unlucky pilot as one of his political chess pieces to further his sadistic agenda.
There is no realm outside the realm of profanity can best describe this latest manoeuvre of his. “Despicable”, “rotten”, “shameful” could not capture the very essence of what he had just did.
In the interview linked below, Anwar Ibrahim asserted his disinformation efforts by saying it is unfair for the Government to say that the pilot would commit such a thing (hijacking) without any investigation.
That was pure lie. In every press conference, we were told that investigations are being made by the authorities and all sundry know that the government have not suspected anyone. They are investigating all credible leads and all passengers and crew members are subjected to thorough investigation. No witch hunt, no finger pointing.
But Anwar Ibrahim thinks that everything is all about him.
He is saying that the government is attacking him about his connection with the pilot just to cover up the ‘incompetence and failure’ in handling the crisis. So far, in all the PCs involved, nobody from the authorities had attacked him. His name was never mentioned.
The CNN reporter failed to raise the issue that the speculation was first brought up by a UK tabloid. In fact, the reporter stupidly asked Anwar Ibrahim why did the government throw this kind of narrative to the public when in the first place, the government of Malaysia is not doing that at all.
Is CNN employing run of the mill reporters these days? Must be. Since they could swallow whatever Anwar Ibrahim is pushing down their throats with glee. If they want to contact the government, they should just get the facts from the press conference directly.
But CNN is acting like a below average news network – not doing its research and homework. The speculation that the missing pilot could have a political motive was hatched by a UK tabloid called the Daily Mail. In that said article which was actually filled with speculation, conjectures, unverified information from unnamed sources, Daily Mail had alluded that the pilot could have hijacked the plane.
This story is the basis of rumours which is then used by Anwar Ibrahim to make a wild allegations towards the government. And of course we have The Star and all their stupid editors lapping up the conspiracy theory by republishing the story for Malaysians to read.
The fact is, all aspects of the missing flight are currently being investigated.
Anwar Ibrahim must stop being delusional and paranoid. We think he is losing the plot. All megalomaniacs will suffer this kind of downfall in credibility. He must admit that in this particular crisis, he is not relevant. What kind of input can he provide to help find the missing aircraft?
Like the wise saying goes – “if you have nothing good to say, better not say anything at all”.
There are so many speculations on the recent crisis pertaining flight MH370 which could distract and hamper the search and rescue activities currently underway in the South China Seas.
Fortunately, the management of this crisis has been handled very well by Malaysia Airlines and the relevant authorities. With the Department of Civil Aviation taking charge of the search and rescue missions, it is commendable on the part of the agencies involved to remain professional in their duties.
The management of the crisis could have gone either way and it is a mark of true professionalism that Malaysia Airlines so far is on the dot in the proper procedures in handling this serious incident. Below is an article from the Business Insider which could have been taken as a case study on what not to do during an aviation crisis.
As the FAA and NTSB continue to investigate the July 6th accident in which 3 were killed and 182 were injured at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), crisis management experts are scratching their heads at the perplexing response of Asiana Airlines.
Crisis Management protocols
When there is a crisis, the proper procedure is for PR-savvy company representatives to talk with the public through the media to reassure them that everything is being done to investigate the cause and insure the safety of the airline and the wellbeing of its passengers.
The idea is to get ahead of the story and make current and future customers as comfortable as possible in doing business with the Airline. As Korea’s second biggest airline, Asiana needs to make every effort to take care of its passengers and protect its reputation while allaying the fears of the flying public.
Asiana, however, has done the opposite of what crisis management protocols suggest. With the exception of a brief apology to victims and families a day after the crash, Asiana has been largely silent. When CEO Yoon Young-doo arrived at SFO airport 3 days after the accident, he declined to comment. Even more surprising, the airline did not have a trained public relations representative accompany the CEO to address the media either. The following day, six of twelve flight attendants appeared at a news conference, but none of them said a word, and some hid their faces. It appears they don’t know that when you are silent, many in the public think you are hiding something. While lawyers often recommend you don’t talk, marketers know that silence is the opposite of what a company faced with such a crisis should do.
Attempt to silence passengers
What’s even worse is the Airline has instructed passengers not to talk with anyone. On Wednesday, CBS This Morning featured a story about the Xu family who told reporter Carter Evans in an interview he taped on his iPhone that the Airline controlled nearly every aspect of their lives and told them not to speak with the media. In fact, when the reporter arrived at their hotel, airline security tried to prevent him from speaking with the family. Since these efforts to stifle the media appeared on camera on a major news broadcast, they supported what the Xu family was saying and raised further suspicions about Asiana.
Even though the pilots involved in the crash were novices landing and supervising the landing of a Boeing 777 at SFO, they pointed the finger at the automatic speed controls of the plane. According to the head of the NTSB, there are no signs of failure of the automatic speed controls or other automatic flight equipment on the plane that crashed. Such accusations by the pilots do nothing to inspire public confidence – especially since the early evidence points to pilot error as a potential cause of the accident. Also, the fact that this is the first fatal accident involving a Boeing 777, which has a record of being one of the safest planes in the sky, makes the finger-pointing even more suspicious.
While flying is the safest form of travel, it is a risky business for those involved in making and flying the planes. When bad things happen, the best companies can do is to quickly figure out the problem and be forthcoming with customers. What can any business learn from this latest incident involving Asiana Airlines? Employ the fact procedure to protect your reputation.
If implementing the fact procedure is premature
In a case such as this when the cause of the accident is not yet known with certainty, the airline should not be silent as Asiana has been. And, it should not try to control what the passengers say to the media. This just fuels suspicion. It should make it clear to the flying public that it (1) is doing everything in its power to cooperate with the investigation and (2) will continue to do whatever is necessary to insure the safety of its airline and the wellbeing of its passengers.
Since Asiana has proven to be inept in this crisis, and some believe this may be a cultural issue, it should hire US crisis management experts for advice to protect its reputation going forward.
Thanks to blogger SatD, we came across this intriguing article on covert Christian evangelicals in East Africa. It tells a story of a muslim man who became an ardent follower of Christ eventhough outwardly, he is still deemed by the general community as a muslim.
But as the interview progressed, it is becoming clear that he is really a pure Christian at heart whereby he discounted the role of Prophet Muhammad and elevated the position of Christ (Isa Al Masih) and of course, believe in the Trinity (Holy Spirit, Father and Son).
In the belief system of any muslim, the centre of it all is the iman; and the most important part of the iman is the belief in Allah. The one true God. He neither begets nor was begotten. Which runs contrary to the Christian beliefs.
However, from the interview below which appeared in the web portal Christianity Today, the interviewee (known as a pseudonym of “Abu Jaz”) is clearly a member of an evangelical movement trying to subvert the unassuming muslims into a practising christian.
Remember SatD’s post about the type of muslims which are targeted by the Evangelicals? Within the post there is a schedule on the types on Christians in the muslim world:
Abu Jaz is clearly a C5 type of christian. And together with his movement, they are trying to move into C6 where they will be perceived as muslims but privately, they are christians. Note that for a muslim, the moment you believe in the Trinity and the bible, in substance, you are no longer a muslim. And Abu Jaz cited extensively verses from the bible and not once from the Quran. He even talked about syncretism between Christian and Islam.
Do read below on their modus operandi, which among others, telling muslims that they (the Christians) worship Allah too. The opening paragraphs are just misdirection in stating that Abu Jaz is still a muslim and not necessarily be a christian. But as mentioned before, as the interview progressed, it is an obvious fact that Abu Jaz is clearly a christian. We assure you this interview is a really great read in knowing the intricacies of the evangelical movement in East Africa.
Can people from other religious traditions genuinely follow Jesus without becoming “Christians”? The question is a point of much dispute within today’s missions world. Those who follow Jesus yet don’t formally express Christian faith are said to belong to insider movements. And no insider movement has received more attention than Muslims who embrace Christ yet stay within their Islamic community. “Insiders” are hard to access due to cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers. As a result, many Christians have taken positions on insider movements without ever having met or spoken with someone who belongs to one. In the following exclusive interview, we hear from just such an insider.
The following is the synthesis of two interviews conducted in 2011 with “Abu Jaz,” a key leader in a movement that describes itself as the People of the Gospel. This group represents several thousand Muslims in eastern Africa who have converted to faith in Christ during the past decade, but who have remained in their Muslim communities. Abu Jaz is married and has three children. He started followingIsa al Masih (“Jesus the Messiah”) as the Savior 18 years ago.
The interview was conducted by “Gene Daniels,” a missionary in the Muslim community for over a decade, who has published many articles in missionary journals. Christianity Today has verified the authenticity of the interviewer and interviewee, whose real names are withheld so that the work of the People of the Gospel will be protected.
Describe your conversion to Christ.
One night the only food my wife and I had was a small portion of macaroni. My wife prepared it very nicely. Then one of her friends knocked on the door. I told myself, The macaroni is not sufficient for even the two of us, so how will it be enough for three of us?But because we have no other custom, we opened the door, and she came in to eat with us.
While we were eating, the macaroni started to multiply; it became full in the bowl. I suspected that something was wrong with my eyes, so I started rubbing them. I thought maybe my wife hid some macaroni under the small table, so I checked, but there was nothing. My wife and I looked at each other, but because the guest was there we said nothing.
Afterward I lay down on the bed, and as I slept, Isa came to me and asked me, “Do you know who multiplied the macaroni?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I am Isa al Masih. If you follow me, not only the macaroni but your life will be multiplied.”
He didn’t tell me that he was God; he didn’t tell me that he died on behalf of me; he didn’t say, “I am the Son of God.” He didn’t talk to me about any complicated theological issues. He only told me that if I followed him, he would multiply my life. At that time, I was very happy if he only multiplied the macaroni like he did that day. I didn’t understand what he meant when he said that my life would be multiplied. Now I understand what that means. But at that time, I accepted him simply as the “lord of macaroni.”
Much like the crowds in the Gospels who accepted him as “lord of bread.”
Yes, I just accepted him as one who satisfied my needs. That day I understood that because Allah loved me, Isa came to my home.
When I think back now, the kingdom of God came to my home. Jesus said, “[I]f I cast out demons … the kingdom … has come upon you” (Luke 11:20, NASB). Any miracle that takes place by Isa al Masih speaks of the kingdom of God. It was not because I was poor that Isa came to my home; there are many poor. It is not because he wanted to multiply my macaroni. Maybe there might be other people who can multiply macaroni, like magic. So what is the purpose? Isa al Masih came to my home with the kingdom of God. He didn’t completely explain theological issues, he only said, “If you will follow.”
I went to an [evangelical] church after that, and I faced a cultural challenge as a Muslim. Everything was different—their way of worship, the way they sang songs, the way they danced. Nothing was familiar to me.
I have my own expression of worship. When it comes to greetings, I say, As-salaam ‘alaykum (“Peace be upon you”), and I expect people to reply, Wa ‘alaykum Salaam wa rahmatu l-laahi wa barakaatuh (“Peace to you and may God’s mercy and blessings be upon you”). And we Muslims have a way of shaking hands. But in the church, it was totally different. Nobody liked my expressions. Brothers and sisters told me that As-salaam ‘alaykum and Wa ‘alaykum salaam were from the Devil, so it was hard for me to join and start life with members of the church.
One day the pastor came to me and said, “How are you?” I answered, “Alhamdulillah!” (“Praise be to God!”). The pastor was very angry. He said, “No, brother! No more Alhamdulillah. Your God is changed from Allah to God [using the tribal name]. You have to express your thanksgiving to God as a Christian, and we have our own expression of thanksgiving to God.” He ordered me to say, “Praise the Lord” and “Praise to God.” He asked me to not use the term Allah because Allah is evil, Allah is the Devil, Allah is the black stone, Allah is an idol. That was the first time I had heard [anyone say] that Allah is an idol or evil. I was shocked. When I do my spiritual duties, I think I am doing them for Allah. He is the one who created the universe, sustains the universe, and judges the universe. I couldn’t in my mind imagine that Allah is an idol or evil.
The next day the pastor asked, “How are you?” I wanted to replace his words with my own Alhamdulillah, but since the pastor warned me not to, I didn’t. I tried to say, “Praise the Lord,” or “Praise to God,” but for 33 years I had never used these words or the tribal name for God, and it was difficult to do so. So I stayed [in the church] without sayingAlhamdulillah for more than three months. I simply said, “I am fine.” I wanted to express my gratitude to Allah, but because of their understanding [of the term], I suppressed it.
Then I started questioning the justice of God. I asked him, “God, you are the one who put me in a Muslim culture; it was not my choice. They don’t allow me to express [my praise] in the congregation. When they hear Islamic terminologies, they immediately rebuke me, so I prefer to keep silent. You like the Orthodox culture, you like the traditional African culture, you like Jewish culture, you like the European culture, you like cultures of other people groups, but you dislike the Muslims. So you are not just.”
This stayed with me for two years. But finally, because I had no other alternative, I completely accepted the evangelical cultural context, and I dissolved all of my Islamic cultural identity. No more Islamic terms; [you could say] that in my context I became circumcised. Then people finally accepted me as a believer, but it isolated me from my own Muslim community.
Did the church accept you when you abandoned your Islamic identity?
When I changed my culture they thought I had finally become a believer; before that they did not consider me one. When I changed my culture to become like them, they even clapped their hands and said, “Now Abu Jaz has become a believer.” But I had already believed for two years.
After some time, I had the chance to go to a Bible college. While I studied there, I learned the difference between the supracultural substance of the Word of God and the cultural form that expresses it. Then my question was answered, [and I understood] that God really does love everyone. God opened my eyes to understand that all cultures are equal in his eyes. It is not holy contexts, only holy texts.
From that time, 1998 by the European calendar, I started to prepare myself to speak with my own community. In the Bible college, I discovered myself, and I wanted to restore my cultural identity again, the identity of my culture, not for the sake of the people, but to express myself and my faith in God. I went back and restored my former Islamic cultural identity. Then I rejoiced that God is just.
Still, even if I had theological and cultural challenges in the Christian community, I experienced love there, a love that was alive. The believers showed me and my wife kindness and love. So I praise God for these people.
But I understand the pain of Muslims. I understand what they fear. When they hear the Good News, they want to have Isa al Masih, but because they have been told that it is only Christians who think about him, they reject him. But now we are not repeating the same mistake.
Talk a little about the theology of your movement.
We do not use systematic theology, even though I studied [it] in Bible college and understand how and when Christians developed different Christologies, for example. I know church history, and I know the creeds and when they started. The early church fathers faced external and internal challenges; they wrote the creeds to solve their own challenges, in their own contexts. So if [the] church fathers solved their own problems by finding answers in the Word of God, then the people who are working among the Muslims have to identify their own problems and even call councils to discuss the challenges and apologetic [issues] in these contexts.
How do you go about sharing the gospel in your context?
It is important to start [by asking], What is the purpose of preaching the gospel? We find our thinking in Acts 14:15, where Paul says, “We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” So bringing the Good News to people is turning them back to their Creator God. Of course, we must do this in Isa, in Jesus, but we have to start just as Paul did, with the Creator God.
This is general revelation. If we destroy general revelation, there is no more special revelation. As far as I know, Paul directly addressed non-Jewish religions twice, and both times, he started with general revelation but ended up with Jesus, the ultimate revelation of God, as the one appointed by God the Creator to save people. The Book of Acts tells us that. But to believers, in the Epistles, he taught them that Jesus is divine. No one can say Jesus is Lord without the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3).
Muslims believe there is a Creator of heaven and earth, and his name is Allah. If you tell a Muslim about the Creator of heaven and earth, but say that the Creator is not Allah, the Muslim will be very confused. What you are telling him is not good news.
If you believe that even Muslims have received general revelation, then you have to start there. If you don’t believe this, you don’t believe your own [evangelical] theology. But if you come to them with good news, [to] restore their relationship with the Creator God, then you have to receive the name they have for him, Allah. If we say that the one they know as Allah is not God, we are not [speaking] against the religion of Islam, or Muhammad or Qur’an, but against the doctrine of general revelation. The missionary must first receive the name of the Creator God from the people, and then they have heavenly authority to give the people the name of the Savior, Isa al Masih.
How is this different from simply believing in the Muslim prophet Isa, as in the Qur’an?
Muslims believe that Isa is a prophet and messenger of Allah, but that he is superseded by Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. According to Islam, salvation is based on the teaching of Muhammad. But you still have something to start with in Islam. You start with their limited Christology and Christ’s role in the kingdom of God, mainly his role in the Day of Judgment. Muslims start to think from Islamic Christology, but they end up with Isa [as the one] who overcame the power of death. They progressively understand him, from prophet and messenger to Savior and then to Lord. But this takes time and the Holy Spirit, as it also did for Peter.
But while they are slowly coming to understand who Jesus is, why don’t you also slowly bring them into the Christian church?
It is possible for Muslim-background believers to join the existing church. But the evangelical church in my country represents a mixture of two religious forms, the Coptic Church and traditional religion.
If I say to Muslims, “Come to this church with me,” I am inviting them to a very strange thing. Also, this is saying to them that they do not deserve a church that connects with their community. This is why we need a Muslim-focused church-planting strategy, because it will produce a church that uses the terms and forms from their Muslim community, not something from other religious communities.
Many Christians in the West would agree that Muslim-focused evangelistic strategy is needed. But many of them also feel that a Muslim-focused church is going too far.
Why is it too far? All people have a church-planting strategy that fits their religious context. Why is there a [problem] when we come to Islam? So we ask, “Do Muslims deserve a church that fits their cultural context?” We are not trying to bring them into the already [existing] evangelical church. They should have a church that reflects their culture. Then we can say that we have an indigenous church, one that grows from the soil of the Muslim community. To “hook” one person into the evangelical church is possible. But the question is how we can fish with a net.
When you are talking to one person you [are also] talking to his community. He represents the whole community. What we say to one will go back to all the rest. So we want to reach a whole community and bring community transformation. The content of church is from heaven, but the form of the church should be from the ground, the culture. The church should reflect Muslim culture, not Muslim theology.
How do the people in your movement view Muhammad? Is there confusion?
First, we cannot rule out syncretism at the beginning of a new believer’s life. The purpose of discipleship is to separate their old beliefs from their new beliefs. So when they put their faith in Jesus, they may have at the same time Muhammad in their heart. But when they start to pray in the name of Isa for their own need, they experience joy, assurance, and peace. And when they pray in the name of Jesus and find people healed and demons cast out, they completely stop thinking about Muhammad. It is a process of the Holy Spirit.
[We should] categorize people in how they relate to Jesus: Where are these people, and where is Jesus in their life? We should ask, “Does this person accept Isa as Lord of their life?”
But what about Muhammad?
Before [they believe in Isa], Muslims acknowledge Muhammad as the final prophet of God. Then we tell them about Isa al Masih. They already know that Isa al Masih was a prophet that raised people from the dead. They know that Isa al Masih did miracles and that he will come as the sign of the Day of Judgment.
Even though they know all this, they are not intentionally thinking about Isa; they are thinking about Muhammad. But when we tell them the gospel, they begin to think about Isa intentionally as the one who will save them from the Day of Judgment, from Satan, from antichrist, from death.
At that point, they mix Muhammad with Isa al Masih. Before, Isa was not the issue. Muhammad was the issue. But when they hear about Isa, they start to bring Isa up to the level of Muhammad. Before, Muhammad was the one who controlled their life.But when they hear the Good News of the kingdom of God, they start to think about Isa. Now syncretism has started; before there was no syncretism. If missionaries don’t ever want problems with syncretism, then just leave them with Muhammad [grins].
But syncretism did not start with us. It started even in Paul’s time. That was the reason Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians. It is not [an] issue because we are Muslims; syncretism starts because people normally start with their own religious background. When people start to think about Isa intentionally, the Holy Spirit has room to lead them into all truth, even if they first mix Isa and Muhammad. The Holy Spirit through time will glorify Isa al Masih in their lives.
So after the new birth, the Holy Spirit begins to open their minds to understand more fully the Messiah.
Yes, of course. Before they believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will convict them about sin, righteousness, and judgment. As soon as they give their will to Jesus, they will receive the Holy Spirit and be born again and become a child of God. Then the Holy Spirit starts to live in them. Because the Holy Spirit lives in them, he will lead them to all [the] truth of Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit will give them revelation, and they will say that Jesus is Lord.
The [rest of the community] have started to think now, and they say, “Lial lial rasul Isa“—”These are the people of the messenger Isa.” They’ll say, “Who are these people? These people are not Christians. These people are not Muslims. Who are they? Let’s go and hear what they are thinking.” We explain as much as possible from the Bible. People ask us, “Who is Isa for you?” Our answer is, “He is the Word of Allah.” Then we quote from the Qur’an, but explain what the “Word of Allah” means from a biblical perspective.
If the Muslim community thinks the new believers “are not Christians and are not Muslims,” what do the new believers themselves think? What is their self-identity?
When they first come to believe in Isa, of course they still think [of themselves] as Muslims. What else could they think? We are not telling them they are now Christians.
But when they understand the gospel more clearly, they don’t want to have an Islamic religious identity. Yet they also do not want to let go of their cultural identity as Muslims, which naturally includes forms from their previous way of life and worship.
Where is Jesus in the life of the people in your movement, the People of the Gospel?
When people want to know our faith articles, we can tell them. But when it comes to individual people, we cannot say so easily, because they are not all on the same level. We find some people who say Jesus is God, some who understand that Jesus is the Savior. Others say he is the Word of Allah, without explanation, as they are struggling to understand what that means. Sometimes they understand Isa, other times they don’t. So we have to instruct them.
We have to teach them from the things that they already know. For example, some people may not [understand] if I tell them that Jesus died on their behalf. Islam has a different theology of sin; they don’t accept that Jesus died on their behalf. It is true that he died on their behalf, but it is not the only benefit [of Christ’s death].
When he died on the cross, he defeated death and the one who owned the power of death, Satan. And because God raised Jesus from the dead, he was appointed by God as a judge on the Day of Judgment, and the Savior from the Day of Judgment. The Cross is the answer for every [issue] in life. It is the solution regarding our relation to God, Satan, sin, death, and so on.
It is the evangelist’s responsibility to choose which benefit of the Cross is the answer for the spiritual needs a Muslim feels. Then gradually the Holy Spirit will explain the benefit of the Cross as it relates to their sin.
Muslims are afraid of evil spirits; they are afraid of the Day of Judgment. They are afraid of the Devil. I have a message from the kingdom of God that addresses all of these spiritual needs. So we are using the Muslim way of thinking about Isa, even if it is incomplete. If Muslims understand even one of these, they will call to Isa, and the Holy Spirit can lead them to understand more benefits of the Cross.
There are lots of opportunities in Islam; there are also lots of challenges. But the opportunities are bigger than the challenges. We must remember that it is not we who are bringing God to the Muslim people. He was already here.
Something not so heavy this time around – comparing costs of living between cities around the world.
Just go to http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living and key in the cities and they will tabulate the costs which are adjusted with the exchange rates and compiled with the real costs from each city. As the website stated:
Expatistan is a cost of living calculator that allows you to compare the cost of living between cities around the world. The comparisons allow you to get a better understanding of the cost of living of any city before you move there.
What makes us unique is that we collect the prices that we use to calculate our cost of living index from visitors like you. Naturally, the more data entered, the more accurate the index and the calculations will be.
We have compared the cost of living between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as below:
So if you are trying to migrate or go for a holiday in another city, give this website a try and make your decisions wisely. At least it can give you a rough idea on what sort of budget you might encounter.
The much awaited Auditor General Report was published recently and the nation is gripped with unearthed stories about mismanagement (again), unrealistic purchases (what’s new?), inefficiencies as well as wastage.
We should really brand the momentous AG announcement as a national transparency day of sorts when discoveries like the ones exposed recently are highlighted for all can see.
What dumbfounded the nation is the fact that these findings are nothing new and had been going on for years but astonishingly, nobody in the audited government agencies learnt anything from past mistakes! Is the AG Report being treated as a insignificant memo by the misbehaving departments? Won’t the junior officers take heed of the mistakes made by their senior management about these gross mismanagement?
Leading the pack for inefficient spending would probably be the Ministry of Education:
The 2012 Auditor-General’s Report has revealed severe mishandling of RM2.051 billion with regard to hiring security contractors for schools between 2010 and 2012.
From poorly prepared contracts to hiring of septuagenarians as security guards, the auditor-general said the management of security services in 35 schools and hostels surveyed was generally unsatisfactory.
The audit, which involved schools in Selangor, Perlis and Sabah, found that the contracts were not uniform and did not state specific requirements set by the Education Ministry.
In some schools, the audit found that contractors had breached the terms of their contracts by hiring security guards who are too old, unfit, dressed inappropriately, ill-equipped and had not been subjected to background checks.
Nineteen of the 35 facilities visited by the audit team did not have anyone guarding the entrances and people were seen entering and exiting freely.
The audit team found that the Education Ministry was not keeping proper tabs on the implementation of the security project and failed to penalise errant contractors.
Now who is the contractor? We would think that those who are manning the tender and the contracts department in the ministry would have been a seasoned disciplinarian by now and is aware that the audit department will be breathing down his/her neck just to ensure that the security contracts are running efficiently. But obviously, we cannot train the civil servants in charge of this important task to be honest and diligent. In the end, payments are duly made without any regard to the delivery of services.
Another governmental arm which wasn’t performing was the police:
The Auditor-General’s 2012 report reveals that the Royal Malaysian Police Force recorded a total of 309 missing items in the form of weapons, handcuffs and cars.
It also reported that the Royal Customs Department wasted a whopping RM600,000 on 7,659 pairs of shoes that were not according to specification and were then badly damaged during prolonged storage.
The items missing from the police force were recorded between 2010 and 2012, resulting in losses amounting to RM1.33 million.
The auditor-general reports that handcuffs topped the list of missing items at 156, followed by 44 weapons and 29 police vehicles.
Although the amount is small, the fact that weapons can be missing from the police force shows that there is a severe lack of controls in the police department and this doesn’t just involve money but it involves public security issue as well. Where did all the weapons go? How could they have lost it? From now onwards, KDN should really look into their SOP because if from 2010 to 2012 we lost 44 weapons, imagine how many had sifted through the cracks in years before that.
Then there is this incinerator project which not many know of:
The National Solid Wastes Management Department (JPSPN) spent RM199 million on incinerators over the last four years, and then found there was no expertise to operate such machines in Malaysia.
All four incinerators at tourist spots in the islands of Langkawi, Pangkor and Tioman and in Cameron Highlands saw construction delays of two to three times their original schedules.
And even after completion, the Auditor-General’s 2012 Report says, three of the incinerators were not operated for 223 to 642 days, all because of the lack of expertise.
A fifth incinerator planned for Labuan was scrapped.
So basically RM200 million was spent on something we don’t really know about. On top of that, it was unused for up to two years because the person in-charge do not know how to find ways to operate it. For two years they presumably tried to find people who can make the incinerator worked, but alas the search was futile. Yes they could find people who can build it, but they couldn’t learn or find people who can operate it. Two years.
Bear in mind all this money wasted came from Budget 2012 which was made in 2011. May we suggest the Treasury to look into the numbers again and prepare a much lower budget for the agencies above for Budget 2014? From the lackdaisical attitude and their cavalier approach towards handling other people’s money, surely they should not hold a lot of money to begin with.
Next is the issue on the police force again:
Between June 2008 and December 2010, the Malaysian police purchased five Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft for a whopping US$58.25 million (RM175.24 million) for their Air Wing.
The planes were supposed to facilitate the upgrading of the nation’s air security.
However, within less than five years of usage, one of the planes had to be grounded for eight months, between September 2011 and April 2012, while another could not be used between June and November 2012.
Furthermore, out of the five, only three aircraft have been delivered so far.
The project was awarded after direct negotiations with Hawker Pacific Airservices Ltd, through its agent EZ Aviation Sdn Bhd.
5 planes costing RM175 million that means each plane is averaging RM35 million. We could understand if the cost includes maintenance for the next 10 years but if it doesn’t then RM35 million for a twin turboprop aircraft at a base price of USD6 million (according to the plane’s website) is way too much.
But that is not the least of the problem. The fact that two aircrafts have not been delivered until now should ring some alarm bells from the police’s procurement department. But obviously someone was sleeping on the job.
Of course the mother of it all is the fact that some people in RTM thought they could get away with this:
The Broadcasting Department blew its budget spending RM120,210 on clocks and scanners alone, thus overpaying for these items by thousands of times beyond its actual cost.
Despite budgeting RM100 per unit for a clock and RM200 per unit for an A4-sized document scanner, the Auditor-General found that the Broadcasting Department spent RM3,810 per unit for “branded” wall clocks and RM14,670 per unit for the scanners.
In the 2012 AG Report, it found the department bought 20 branded wall clocks and three scanners for national broadcaster RTM’s offices in three states.
The department paid RM76,200 for the clocks, which was 3,810% above its estimated budget, and RM44,010 for the scanners, which was 7,235 times more than its initial budget.
The department also bought five scanners for A3 sized documents at an inflated price of RM20,630 each, 103,150% more than its estimated budget of RM1,000 each.
Although the ministry had explained on the use of those clocks, they were silent on the RM20,000 scanners. Anyone would be hard pressed to explain what kind of nuclear powered scanner they have bought.
Heads of department should really take leaf on how private companies are saving money. They treat their money like their children’s money. We have known so many stingy CEOs, prudent CFOs, very strict tender committees and a well disciplined procurement department. All in small, medium, and large private companies. Do you think the CFOs in YTL, Hong Leong Group, throw money just like that?
We need to look at ourselves and learn the concept of saving money which doesn’t belong to us.
Lastly is the bonus payouts by the GLCs. Although this is not mismanagement per se, but it is worth mentioning.
Seven government-linked companies (GLCs) rewarded its employees with fat bonuses despite recording a combined loss of close to RM2 billion in 2011.
The Auditor-General Report today stated that Syarikat Prasarana Negara, an infrastructure company which had the highest recorded deficit of RM763 million among the group, gave its employees between one-and-a-half and two months bonus each.
The report also found that MIMOS, the country’s research centre, was the most generous of the group, by giving out between two and three months bonus to its employees, despite making a RM4.6 million loss in 2011.
Meanwhile, employees of KTM received the least with the railway operator distributing ex-gratia payments of a half-month’s salary or a minimum of RM500 in the same year. The company made losses of RM103 million.
The other companies which lavished its employees with bonuses despite making losses were Amanah Raya, Jambatan Kedua, Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) and Cyberview.
Now this is a catch 22 situation. The GLCs which provide services to the people are generally working under the pretext of ‘social responsibility’. Obviously they can’t make enough money otherwise the best possible way to increase the profits is to just charge the customers more.
In other words, IWK will just need to increase their rates, Prasarana and KTM just need to increase their fares. Since customers are a bunch of easily annoyed creatures, the costs were never truly borne by the public (Prasarana for instance have not reviewed fares for more than 10 years).
Realistically, GLCs need to reward staff who are performing really well despite the outcome of the financial accounts otherwise these companies will unable to motivate and retain good workers. They will move elsewhere if their contribution are not recognise.
And as mentioned in the tweets of Prasarana’s CEO, Datuk Shahril Mokhtar (the only CEO so far who took to twitter to briefly explain the AG Report findings) – Prasarana’s financial position is automatically handicapped by depreciation and financial costs amounting to RM700 million annually which greatly contributed to the RM763 million loss. Not surprising since Prasarana is an asset and infrastructure based company.
No explanation have come forth from IWK, KTM, MIMOS, Jambatan Kedua etc.
The Treasury however, did issue a brief response:
The treasury said these GLCs were not set up for the sake of making huge profits but to fulfill its social responsibility and nation-building objectives.
Hence, it was up to the Ministry of Finance to determine if these companies had achieved its key performance indicators
Punchy and truthful Bill Maher
Stumbled upon this article in www.upworthy.com where a social experiment was conducted with amazing discovery on how money affects people.
“Science can explain a lot of things that I’ve always wondered about (go, science!). In this case, it explains what I’ve known for a long time but been unable to quite understand: Why do some folks who have a lot more money than others seem to be less nice and more evil to everyone around them?
At 0:50, someone actually takes candy from babies. No, really. At 3:00, we start to see the science unfold before our eyes. Entire management courses could — and should — be taught with the bit starting at 4:40.”