The government has set up a high-powered task force, headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, to study the 2008 Auditor-General’s report and initiate appropriate action against those responsible for financial irregularities and abuse of power mentioned in the report.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the setting-up of the task force had received the green light from the cabinet, which met Friday, and was in line with the government’s effort to realise a high performance culture in the civil service.
“The cabinet views the report seriously and has decided that a task force be formed to probe financial irregularities mentioned in the report. The committee will not only look at the abuse of power and initiate action against those found involved in financial irregularities but also take administrative action against those found guilty but could not be charged in court for various reasons,” he told a news conference at his office.
The task force would also include Finance Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah, Public Service Department Director-General Tan Sri Ismail Adam and Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang himself.
They would have the power to rope in Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission if the need arose.
“I want to emphasise here that we are not on a witch-hunt of any kind, but we want to ensure that those who have done wrong are not let off the hook. We will use the law against those found to be involved in irregularities but if there are cases which we cannot take to court, we will use administrative action like a demotion or a transfer,” said the prime minister.
He said action would be based on fairness and would take into consideration all mitigating factors and circumstances.
“We also have to give these people a fair chance to defend themselves. The task force will have the power to summon anyone it thinks fit to testify to the task force.
“We also want to show that even those in the government administrative system are not let off if they had issued wrong orders to those lower down. The cabinet feels that action must be taken as we do not want mistakes repeated annually and only pointed out in the Auditor-General’s report without any serius action taken against wrongdoers,” said Najib, who is also finance minister.
Najib said the task force would hold its first meeting Monday and look at the report on a case to case basis in stages.
The prime minister stressed that the government wanted to show that it was committed to initiating stern action against those who abuse power while in office.
“I know we cannot achieve zero irregularities but we can reduce its incidence,” he added.
He said that while the government was going after those who committed wrong while in the civil service, it would also reward those who performed their duties well.
“We are not only taking punitive action but also instilling the high performance culture where those who perform well get rewarded,” he added.