Guess who's paying for dinner
PETALING JAYA: A course on table manners and etiquette can be easily obtained at a price of only RM40 per person, so why then did the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) have to spend a hefty sum for it?
Responding to the recent exposé of Mayor Datuk Ruslin Hassan's RM94,000 splurge on grooming and etiquette for 31 DBKL officers, Transparency International president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said: "It was unheard of during my time in the civil service."
Bearing in mind that the mayor "might have meant well," Ramon said, giving a treat is not a bad idea ... " but not at that level in scale, which is an absolute waste."
"You can hold a kenduri (feast) at much less in terms of money and, in Malaysian style with good muhibbah food and without a lavish spread at a fivestar hotel.
"Furthermore, manners can be taught anywhere, not necessarily at an istana (palace)," he said, when contacted on Monday.
Ramon said civil servants, during induction courses, were taught very well at National Institute of Public Administration (Intan).
"The expenditure is redundant and wasteful and can go towards a scholarship fund for the City Hall employees as well as improve DBKL's service.
"I dread to think how other decisions of scarce allocation have been made ... I hope this is not the tip of the iceberg.
"If the current mindset can approve or condone such lavish expenditures, what might the same mindset apply to other decisions?"
"There are floods everywhere because drains are not cleaned up and uneven grounds. It is almost criminal," he said.
If, however, a lesson is learnt, he said, it is a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, independent watchdogs must be set up to monitor local authorities, state and federal government agencies as well.
Ruslin was reported to have taken City Hall advisers, heads of department and their spouses on a fine-dining outing at a luxury restaurant and a karaoke session on June 19. When contacted, Intan which provides training for the government bodies, told theSun that protocol and etiquette sessions can be obtained at RM30 to RM40 per person.
Ruslin was also reported to have spent on tuxedos, worth RM2,500 each for the officers.
Fashion stylist Peter Lum says a basic jacket and pants can cost RM2,000.
"However, the price would usually depend on the material as well as brand and the accessories that go with the tuxedo ... but the sky is the limit." "They also wear them at the Tattler Ball which is a major season when tuxedos fly off the racks," he said, adding that a Batik shirt would usually suffice in an event involving the King or a minister in Malaysia.
"Wearing a full tuxedo at such events might make you look overdressed," Lum added.
When contacted, a DBKL media relations officer declined to comment and asked that questions be directed to the respective minister or the Chief Secretary to the government.
The Tuxedo 2: DBKL.
News like these are becoming like a daily norm in Malaysia equivalent to daily deaths in Iraq. So, should we live with it and as someone always say 'We owe no one for a living'?
Here's a very inspiring letter which hits all the right spots in my brain of what my thoughts are now. From Malaysiakini's mailbox:
We’re to blame for our fear
Jun 27, 06 3:45pm
I read Concerned Malaysian Indian's letter, What has old boy Dr M to gain with interest.
As the saying goes, a man can get used to anything, even hanging, if he hangs long enough. And I think that's the problem with many Malaysians, myself included. Nothing shocks or disgusts us anymore. Dirty politicians and businessmen are as common in this country as snatch thieves.
We almost expect our MPs to be corrupt and would be amazed if one wasn't. Just throw a stone in a crowd and you're quite likely to hit someone who's been approached for a "back scratch" by a policeman unabashedly bearing a "Saya Anti-Rasuah" badge on his chest. Things in this country are not getting any better, but let's face it - we have only ourselves to blame.
Our expectations of our national leaders and their moral culpability is below sea level. It's okay for our ministers to steal from the very people who elected them as long as our economy is booming and the West gives us the damn respect we deserve! After all, they too have families to feed and sons to bail out. We seem to be richer than many of our Asean neighbours. So, we should consider ourselves very blessed and be grateful.
But is that all we are entitled to?
I have many bones to pick with the powers-that-be but if I had to choose only one, it would be the issue of safety, or the lack of it. I want to be able to walk down a street without having to worry that a motorcyclist is going to snatch my handbag and injure me in the process.
I want to be able to park my car opposite my church on Sundays and not return to find it vandalised or stolen. I want to be able to live in my own home without having to turn it into a jail, with metal grills installed at all possible points of entry. I want to be able to enter my car in a basement parking lot without the fear of being hijacked, kidnaped, robbed and raped.
I want to be able to help a stranger who's having car trouble on the highway without doubting his sincerity. I don't have any children yet, but if I did, I would like to have the peace of mind that my little girl will return from school safely everyday and not be attacked by some pervert. Relatively ‘minor’ things to some, maybe, but according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has a right to the security of person.
We need to raise our expectations of our leaders beyond making more money and building skyscrapers. If we continue to make excuses for them, where's their motivation to change and how will we ever get out of this mess?
So, the question is, "Should we just live with it?"
Unfortunately, most of the young middle- and working-class urbanites (including majority of my friends as well) have that sort of thinking and mentality now. I mean, to them, they are not living in a deplorable, famined condition like in some parts of Africa. They have a 9-5 job, they have a decent (or indecent for some) earning, they have friends and families, and they are lucky enough to be able to watch the World Cup. So, should they be content with life? "Haiya, jo yan dou hai wan liong chan pau jek mah (Sigh, our existence in this world is to make two meals a day to keep us full). Should they embrace what is happening in this country? Spoil the child and spare the rod; just for the sake of chest-thumping 'I love Malaysia as what she is now as she is my country'?
Although some might not even bother about it, we have a choice. The sacred cross. And I'm NOT even talking about religion here.
Finally, here's a picture for the day, found in some forwarded e-mails that I got:
FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT,
BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.