To laugh or to cry

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigating the National Feedlot

Corporation (NFC) accused of abusing a RM250mil Federal loan has discovered that government representatives on the company's board lacked the necessary skills to be company directors.

PAC chief Datuk Sen Azmi Khalid said: "The officers representing the ministries did not have the know-how to be on the board of directors.

"Maybe they knew their responsibilities but actions to ensure that proper procedures were taken were not done."

Azmi also added that directors should be well-versed in the Companies Act and the accounts of their company.

While I commend the Auditor-General for first blowing the whistle on the issue last year, I am quite amused by the comments from PAC.

I do not expect government officers sitting on the board of companies to be experts on company law or be certified public accountants.

However, 1 expect them to know that cows do not live in condominiums and therefore, company funds should not be used to buy condominiums.

I am also no audit expert, but common sense or "cow sense" (pardon the pun) is equally, if not more, important than technical knowledge.

All too often, one can become obsessed and get lost in the details that we miss the woods for the trees.

I serve in government agencies (mainly related to labour: Industrial Court, Socso, EPF, National Labour Advisory Council, National Wages Consultative Council}. I travel often to Kuala Lumpur in the course of my duties and thus, have to make travelling claims.

The Government has very comprehensive guidelines and procedures to ensure that all claims are proper and above board.

The accounts department is very meticulous when it comes to details; like the time of your flight, what time you leave home, what time you arrive home.

You must produce original receipts no matter what the amount.

And the claim forms run into pages and must be in triplicate. On quite a number of occasions they rejected my claims for taxi fares because 1 could not produce the receipts.

Hey! When you have to get up at 4am to catch the 6am flight and take the last flight back arriving home after midnight, you are too sleepy and tired to worry about receipts.

Well, the taxi fare from the airport is a standard RM26 to my home, and I have submitted similar receipts for other occasions.

But each time that 1 cannot produce a receipt, my claim is rejected. No, 1 don't dispute it because so long there is a receipt, they will pay.

Now what if I hire a luxury limousine service and produce an original, duly signed, certified receipt for RM500? Would I be paid RM500?

So my point is that even if NFC produced proper sales and purchase agreements, duly authorised purchase orders, architect's certification of completion, certificate of fitness, bank statements, lawyers' power of attorney and what nots, no director should approve the purchase of a condo for cows.

It is OK to approve an invoice from 100 cow bells at RM5 each, even if the amount of the invoice is not in words, just figures.

Again, if Intake the 6am flight to KL and return on the same night on the 10.15pm flight, I am not entitled to overnight allowance as technically I did not stay overnight and even though 1 saved the government hotel expenses.

You might wonder why I don't stay overnight.

Well, day trips are much more productive and I am doing my part to counter accusations from employers that workers are not productive.

But the system actually discourages productivity because some "smarter" travellers would then travel the day before the meeting and return the day after, and paid three days travelling and two nights accommodation, and is away from his work for three days.

I am pleased that there is greater concern about our environment and the need to protect and preserve our planet for future generations.

Global warming is a real threat. The dry season is getting drier while the wet season is getting wetter.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the strong opposition to environmentally sensitive projects.

Yes, the Parliamentary Select Committee has come up With a finding that the Lynas plant is safe, but we must strike a sensible balance between development and business opportunities on one hand and environment and public safety on the other.

We must play our part to promote recycling to help preserve scarce and dwindling resources. Vans blaring "old newspaper!" are cruising our neighbourhood buying old newspapers, aluminium cans and other recyclable products.

We must use more recyclable products and avoid non-recyclable plastic bags.

We need more "no plastic bag" day. However, there is one major supermarket in Kuching that insists on packing all your purchases into plastic bags and tie them with a cable tie (the ones that electricians use to organise/tie down electrical wires).

When I asked them why, they told me that it was to prevent shoplifting.

Now what if I bring in a similar-looking plastic bag to stash away items from the shelves and tie them with a cable tie?

Does it mean that I have paid for the items? I now refuse to patronise that supermarket until it changes its policy.

We are trying to cultivate the recycling habit among our schoolchildren by separating recyclable garbage such as paper, plastics and aluminium cans and putting them into different garbage bins.

Well and good, until one day I saw garbage collectors emptying all the contents of all three different garbage bins into the same truck!

We must not recycle the ineptitude mindset of those entrusted to protect our environment and our tax dollars. These must be permanently "disposed" of.

Resource: The Star, Page: 7
Date: Sunday, 1 July 2012

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