Bigwigs Grilled On A-G’s Report

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KUALA LUMPUR: Ministry bigwigs used to asking all the tough questions had the tables turned on them when they were grilled instead at a town hall session on the Auditor-General’s 2014 Report.

The event – organised by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa – aimed to allow the media to get answers directly from top officials of the ministries and agencies named in the report, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday.

This was the third town hall session after two others were held last year following the release of Series 2 and 3 of the 2013 report.

During the event at Angkasapuri yesterday, Ali, Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Public Services Department director-general Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal sat on the stage while representatives from the ministries and agencies waited to be called up to the podium.

Some of the officials, including ministry secretaries-general, appeared nervous when responding.

In several instances, Ali interjected to ask follow-up questions and even gave suggestions and advice when the officials seemed at a loss for words.

The most popular query from reporters was how some 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) recipients had abused the scheme by making overlapping claims during each payout.

National Budget Office director Datuk Siti Zauyah Md Desa said this was because BR1M vouchers did not have a serial number, the name of the recipient, their identity card number or other security features.

“But how exactly did some of the recipients manage to claim up to four times?” Ali asked.

“The vouchers were sent to the states so we do not know how a person managed to get more than one, but they did not have security features,” she said, adding that all those issued from this year would have such features.

The authorities, said Siti Zauyah, would go all out to recover the money, with RM948,850 out of the RM3.3mil lost recouped so far.

Asked about poor conditions at some river jetties making it hard for patients to access the Health Ministry’s Klinik Bergerak 1Malaysia (KB1M) boats, secretary-general Datuk Faridah Mohd Ali said it had replaced the one in Kinabatangan with an aluminium structure.

“However, we always urge state governments to upgrade their jetty infrastructure as we are more focused on providing health services,” said Faridah.

This prompted a comment from Ali that ministries should take action where it could without waiting for state governments. – The Star

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