Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ong Ka Ting Should Submit A Report Card For His Performance As Minister

MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting should submit a report card for his performance as Minister and give full accountability as to why the Prime Minister was so unhappy with the lack of progress in resolving the delay in issuance of Certificate Of Fitness (CF) by The Housing & Local Government Ministry. In a special interview in The New Sunday Times on 28.1.12007, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had expressed his frustrations at the continued delays despite giving him 2 years to resolve the problem,

People used to complain that the issuance of certificates of fitness (CF) was always delayed. The house is ready but it’s a hassle to get the CF. I promised to get this improved. For close to two years, people were still grumbling. I asked Ka Ting (Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting): "What happened? What is the progress?"

I told him: "This is an important matter. Find a workable solution, do not look for cumbersome solutions."

I told him the best way to do it is through disclosure-based applications where professionals provide guarantees and are held accountable. If the information provided is later found to be wrong and not consistent with current policies and laws, action must be taken against them. I fail to understand why they (the relevant approving agencies) are still reluctant to do this.

I told Ka Ting again that I want these processes to be expedited. Why is it so difficult?

Then it was said that there are 12 laws and regulations (that need to be fulfilled) before a CF can be issued. Amend the laws then, I told him. If something cannot be carried out because of the laws and the regulations, amend them. Last year, we passed these in Parliament. The amendments have been approved and I hope they can now be implemented.

As the Prime Minister said “I told Ka Ting again that I want these processes to be expedited. Why is it so difficult?” Amongst all Ministries, only Ong Ka Ting and his Ministry was singled out for failure to perform. No other Ministers or Ministries were publicly chided for such failure to improve the delivery mechanism. Clearly the Prime Minister is frustrated that Ka Ting can not resolve the delays in the issuance in CFs resolved despite the Prime Minister’s personal intervention.

This only validates the RM 10 pay-cut motion by DAP MP for Cheras Tan Kok Wai against Ka Ting in Parliament last year for non-performance or failure to fulfill the aspirations of the people. If DAP had known that the Prime Minister was equally unhappy, then Kok Wai would have also included “failure to fulfill the aspirations of the Prime Minister” as an additional reason for the RM 10 pay cut motion against Ka Ting.

The Prime Minister had complained about red-tape and bureaucratic delays driving away foreign investment. According to the World Bank, 281 days. In Thailand, it takes only 127 days, and in Vietnam, 133 days to get approval to build a factory in Malaysia. The report says an investor needs to fulfill 25 procedures in Malaysia to build a factory, Singapore 11, Thailand nine, and Vietnam, 14. To start a business, an investor needs to follow nine procedures which will take 30 days in Malaysia, five procedures over six days in Singapore, and two procedures over two days in Australia.

Such red tape had resulted in the perception that the delays were intentional and there was corruption involved. Unless there is good governance, Malaysia would be hard pressed to reverse the decline of foreign direct investment(FDI). Malaysia’s 2005 FDI of had declined and for the first time in history Malaysia’s was less than Indonesia’s. In 2005, Malaysia’s FDI inflow contracted by 14.21% to only US$3.97 billion (RM14.63 billion) last year from US$4.62 billion (RM17.02 billion) in 2004.

In contrast overall FDI inflows into Southeast Asia increased 44.7% to US$37.14 billion (RM136.83 billion). Never before as the FDI for Malaysia fallen when the total FDI for the entire region has increased. More alarmingly, Malaysia lost out to Indonesia, whose FDI increased by five-fold to US$5.26 billion (RM19.38 billion) from US$1.89 billion (RM6.96 billion) in 2004. Unless the red-tape, bureaucratic delays and non-performance of Ministers are overcome, Malaysia would be unable to compete internationally and be left further behind in attracting foreign investment by other neighbouring countries.

Ong should publicly dispel doubts and questions raised about his performance or non-performance as Minister following disappointment and frustrations publicly expressed by the Prime Minister. Otherwise DAP MPs will continue to pursue this in the next sitting in Parliament beginning in March in the interests of good governance, accountability and transparency.
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