30/10/2012: I HAVE to say this to the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, Yee Moh Chai, BRAVO. And I will foolishly join him in calling for heads to roll over the recent two-day runway blackout at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).
BRAVO from me is all that he is likely to get for his gallant effort. And I am foolish to join him in the call because in Malaysia, heads do not roll. More so now that the airport operations are back to normal.
It appears that heads of ministers, board chairmen, Chief Secretary to the Government, secretaries general and department heads are so securely attached to their necks and shoulders that they could not be easily chopped off.
Ministers, board chairmen, Chief Secretary to the Government, secretaries general, department heads, managing directors and chief executive officers are seldom held responsible and punished. They will always have somebody or something to blame.
So, in the case of the KKIA runway blackout or, in the terminology of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, “not up to the required brightness” I dare say that no heads, big or small, will roll.
Already the MAHB had squarely blamed the fiasco on faulty transformers to leaking cables.
It Had Happened Before
Remember the blame game when the radar station at the old Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Subang caught fire in 1994 and two other fires in the two years before that?
Then Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang, had called for an emergency sitting of Parliament to debate the radar station fire and whether then Transport Minister, (Tun) Ling Liong Sik and then Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General, Zaludin Sulong, should be removed.
Ling had gone and the much of DCA’s airport roles had been taken over by MAHB. But has anything changed?
If the Subang Airport fires were old stories, what about last month’s hour-long radar failure at the KLIA in Sepang due to electricity supply problem?
And what about the more recent multi-billion ringgit losses at the enlarged Sime Darby Berhad?
Yes, several top executives were charged in court and found guilty of corruption and criminal breach of trust. But did anybody at the board level take responsibility? The answer is no.
Top civil servants, corporate executives and board members protect each other. Despite the former Prime Minister, (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s best efforts to change the attitude of civil servants during his 22-year rule, little has changed.
Soon after the 1994 Subang Airport fire, Dr Mahathir lamented that government officers had a long way to go in shedding their bureaucratic mindset and that although the Look-East Policy was implemented 10 years ago, people do not change so easily, adding that incompetence of airport officials led to the radar breakdown despite two earlier incidents.
If anything, the improvements seemed to have peaked and the quality of public services is on the decline. Look at the ficus (jejawi) trees hanging from buildings and flyovers in Kuala Lumpur and other so-called cities in the country.
The last mayor of Kuala Lumpur that evokes any kind of positive memory was (Tan Sri) Elyas Omar. Even he was prodded by Dr Mahathir, who made a habit of driving himself around the City every weekend and passing on feedbacks to Elyas and other officials.
Today, we have many more cities and many more mayors, but we hardly remember any of them because they are just glorified “pentadbir” (administrator) without any kind of leadership or vision.
Look at how dirty and unkempt Kuala Lumpur is these days! Alor Star, Ipoh and Penang (all cities) are no better.
Even Putrajaya, apart from the continuous multi-million upgrades of Sri Perdana and Sri Satria, the Prime Minister’s and Deputy Prime Minister’s official residence respectively, the administrative centre has started to fall into a state of disrepair.
Promises Made But Many Undelivered
While I thank the new Putrajaya Corporation Berhad’s new President (Tan Sri) Aseh Che Mat for his assurance that conditions and security at Putrajaya’s numerous recreational parks would be improved, I take the promise with a pinch of salt. Civil servants and their political masters are superb at making “janji” (promises). Fulfilling them is a different matter.
The Auditor-General’s 2011 Report had complained about the less-than-satisfactory security and upkeep of the parks.
In short, Sabah Deputy Chief Miniser Yee is naïve if he seriously believes that heads will roll just because he called for it and the KKIA had seen the last of its runway blackout.
The government is not keen to punish civil servants and heads of corporations because they are powerful, more so in the run-up to the general election. Instead they are being rewarded with bonuses and better service terms.
Since (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s solitary “raid” on the Immigration Department in the early days of his rule in 2003, we have not heard of ministers making surprised checks on government departments and district offices. Wallahualam.
A Kadir Jasin