|Laman Webantu KM2: 6551 File Size: 5.9 Kb *|
MGG: What is sauce for the goose is not for the gander
By M.G.G. Pillai
2/1/2002 12:44 am Wed
The Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, a past master in
"cruelty" to his challenger, is terribly upset when others are as
"cruel". So, the former deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Anwar
Ibrahim, is in Sungei Buloh. That is how it should be, in the
good doctor's considered opinion. But not PAS administration in
Trengganu sacks a recalcitrant chief executive of its Trengganu
Advanced Technical Institute (TATI). It is cruel, he said, to
hire someone and sack him immediately without by your leave.
The PAS government, unlike the National Front government, is both
cruel and pitiless to those who oppose it. When a man disobeys
orders to return Federal funds disbursed without its approve, the
Prime Minister says it is cruelty to sack him. The Trengganu
state government had ordered Prof. Mohd. Zaki Abdul Muin not to
accept "wang ehsan" funds from the Federal Government. He
disobeyed it, and was sacked.
"Wang Ehsan", if you recall, is Petronas royalties due
Trengganu which Kuala Lumpur decided, after PAS took office in
1999, is not due it, and it could the royalties in the state as
it deems fit. The fear what nearly a billion ringgit annual
funds in PAS hands gave the Old Man and UMNO such fearsome
nightmares that he was prepared to rape the federal constitution
and contract law to prevent it. If there is one federal action
which puts the Malaysian federation at risk, this is it. The
matter rightly is in the courts. Petronas and the Malaysian
government have agreements with states that have petroleum giving
them half the royalties the centre receives. Kuala Lumpur, as a
matter of policy, would not allow this money into opposition
hands. The states survive on federal handouts, its source of
independent funds severely curtailed by the centre and
constitutional restrictions to states raising funds. When oil
became an important money spinner, the states which had it became
flush with funds.
For 22 years, the federal government did not object when it
controlled Trengganu, only after PAS took office. "Wang Ehsan"
does not apply in Sarawak and Sabah, the other oil producing
states in Malaysia. If it did, the two states would well secede.
Unfortunately, the other state with sizeable oil and gas
reserves, Kelantan, is also PAS-controlled and disagrees with
Petronas' plans to extract it. Without any benefit, it sees no
reason to agree; and asks why Petronas needs its approval since
Kuala Lumpur insists the state is not entitled to royalties
beyond the three-mile limit. Kuala Lumpur is caught in its own
Meanwhile, Prof. Mohd Zaki Abdul Muin threatens to sue over
his sacking. It "tarnished my reputation as former deputy dean
of the Universiti Malay and as an educationist" and "the public
perception is that I am guilty." He does not explain what this
has to do with his wilful disobeying orders, which he does not
challenge. Instead, he says he disobeyed orders in the larger
national interest: to assist students pursuing degree-level
programms at TATI "so that they would not abandon their studies
halfway". He refused to return to the state treasury, as
ordered, the "wang ehsan" given TATI by the federal government.
He insists he can do as he please, use funds from third
parties as he sees fit. The state did not object when he said
what he intended to do with the funds and so it has no right to
complain. He also sees it as his right to defy his employers if
he thinks it is in the national interest. He, in other words,
feels it within his rights to refuse to disobey orders as he
chooses, an arrogance we expect from the politically protected
and connected. The Prime Minister's comment confirms it. He
obeys a higher authority than who pays his bills. Any who
employs him, he gives notice, must accept it. The sacking -- he
calls it expulsion -- insults him, and he wants redress. He was
appointed on a two-year contract in April last year. He
obviously did not look at his contract closely when he signed it.
He now says "he would look into the legal aspects and the work
procedure to determine whether his sacking contravened the
contract agreement" (as Bernama puts it). In short, the state
government cannot sack him for disobeying orders. It is cruel,
says the Prime Minister.
But it is another facet in this fight for the Malay cultural
ground. UMNO must confront PAS but it shoots itself on every
issue it takes on. The federal government disburses "wang ehsan"
to educational institutions in the state; the state orders them
to hand them over to the state treasury. Prof. Mohd Zaki
disobeyed that. UMNO must be seen to be a step ahead. But it
invariably moves two steps backward. For instance, some of that
"wang ehsan" has disappeared into private UMNO pockets in
Trengganu, where it lost power after 22 years.
The deputy UMNO liaison chief, Dato' Idris Jusoh, a former
deputy minister defeated in the 1999 general election, is in
day-to-day charge of the rudderless and leaderless state UMNO.
About a hundred million ringgit was misused and in deliberate
corruption. He was sent on a three-month course at Harvard,
since extended to a year and probably longer. A similar scandal
in Kelantan diverted RM36 million for the hardcore poor to far
wealthier pockets and implicates the former minister for land and
regional development, Dato' Seri Anwar Musa, and several senior
ministry officials are indicted. But sum involved is more than
three times that.