Najib’s budget failed at reforms especially for cops

The maiden budget speech of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration has been winning praise all round and even opposition MP Liew Chin Tong is saying it is the “best budget speech in years”.

But the DAP’s Liew has a caveat. The speech is just meant for the public’s ears, but the real details are encapsulated in supplementary documents that are not readily available to the public.

Speaking at a public dialogue on Budget 2010 in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur last Saturday, Liew brought up the example Federal Expenditure Estimates 2010 (FEE) document which outlines how the government distributes funds to the various government agencies.

Liew, a full-time political and economics researcher before being elected Bukit Bendera MP, notes that in the police force, there is an inequitable distribution of human resource which would make crime fighting efforts less effective.

For example, he notes that out of the estimated 122,655 police personnel, more than a third or 46,145 personnel were tied down with administrative work.

“(In 2005) the Royal Commission (to enhance the police force) recommended that uniformed police be on the street and civilians handle reporting or administrative work. Police didn’t bother about this,” said Liew.

Police still fighting the Cold War
Liew argued that the police, and by default the federal government, was not interested in bringing about institutional reforms, particularly to its Special Branch unit.

“The problem (with the police) is in the distribution of manpower. Unfortunately, the police force is still living in 1952, if not 1948,” he said.

He notes that currently, there are almost as many personnel in the Intelligence Department (9,130), better known as the Special Branch, as there are those in the Criminal Investigations Department (9,379).

Based on the figures, Liew questions police priorities, especially since the FEE describes the first objective of police intelligence work as gathering information on communist threats, followed by extremism, subversive elements and spying.

“(I think) we are in a police state and we have a budget that is unable to go into detail and address institutional failure. I think we will continue to see a high crime rate, because the police have failed to change,” he said.

BTN and Jasa get more than Parliament

In his 20-minute presentation, Liew’s other contention was the disproportionate spending of federal funds, particularly when Parliament’s is compared with federal run propaganda units.

Based on the FEE, Parliament was allocated RM66 million for 2010 while the often claimed brainwashing units of the government, National Civics Bureau (BTN) and Special Matters Service (Jasa), were accorded a budget of RM63million and RM55 million respectively.

A unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, BTN has been accused of spreading racist propaganda in the guise of ‘patriotism lectures’, compulsory for government scholarship holders and civil servants seeking promotions.

Jasa is a unit under the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry, which according to its official website, was to create a Malaysian society that is confident, moralistic and patriotic.

Its other objectives, among others, includes fostering national integration and training “agents” to disseminate information regarding the government effort to instil the 1Malaysia concept.

“Where are our priorities? We spend very little on Parliament, even though it is the most important institution in the country, but we spend a lot on the Prime Minister’s Department and other propaganda agencies,” lamented Liew.

PM Dept’s big jump in allocations

On the Prime Minister’s Department budget allocations, the FEE notes that expenditure had been stable from 2006 to 2008, but saw an exponential jump in 2009 to RM14 billion, more than double the previous year’s amount.

Of the staggering amount, RM3,661 was used for administration (an amount similar to 2008), but “development” cost had tripled to RM10.3 billion.

“The budget for the PM’s department shot up to RM14 billion for one reason – Sept 16. Because of the threat of Sept 16, they increased the allocation for the PM to buy off MPs by giving them Class-F contracts in their constituencies, particularly in Sabah and Sarawak.

“This increase in the allocation to the PM department is actually meant for the PM himself to dispense contracts… though they reduced the amount (for 2010). It is not enough,” claimed Liew.

He was referring to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s last year’s Sept 16 threat to topple the federal government through defections from Barisan Nasional MPs.

The budget dialogue was organised by Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and was attended by about 50 people.

Other speakers at the event included Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Hamid, Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Selayang MP William Leong.

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