By Ranjit Singh
THE Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s stance on being prudent received a severe setback when Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun’s ministry took out a four-page advertorial in The Star today which underlines the ministry’s game plan for 2020.
We were made to understand that the ad could have cost in the region of RM200,000 as it included a cover wrap. Was it necessary for the ministry to place the ad especially during times when the government is implementing various cost-cutting measures to address the federal debt level of more than RM1 tril, according to the finance minister?
Recently the government announced that it was withdrawing its critical allowance for junior doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists. This move is expected to save the government RM1 bil annually. Although the advertisement placed by the Rural Development Ministry is minuscule in cost, it speaks volumes on the government’s priorities.
The majority of the rakyat are facing issues with escalating costs and falling wages. The government seems to advocate frugality, but when ministers such as Rina go on a so-called “adventure” in an attempt to gain publicity, it really puts the government of the day in a bad light.
Ministers or public servants must always be cognisant of the fact that they are the custodians of public funds that they are entrusted with. Wanton actions of wild spending must not be condoned. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should issue a sharp rebuke to any member of his administration who does not toe the line when it comes to unnecessary spending.
This is especially critical when the nation’s economy is not faring so well. GDP growth is expected to slow next year as the nation grapples with its mounting debts. The government should be extremely prudent in its financial management and ensure that any frivolous spending is done away with.
Rina’s action should serve as a timely reminder to other ministers and their respective ministries that the public is watching and such action will not endear the PH government to the rakyat. When the time of reckoning approaches in GE15, the rakyat will make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Then it could be too late for the PH government to take corrective actions on their unwarranted spending. Ministers should bear in mind that their every action is being scrutinised by the rakyat and public accountability is of paramount importance.
Mindful spending by the government is the edifice of good governance. The action of Rina and her ministry cannot be disregarded. Action needs to be taken to stop all extravagant spending by the PH government.
Rina, who is a first-time MP and is serving as a first-term Cabinet minister, should show more restraint in her actions. Many quarters are saying that the Cabinet position was “gifted” to her by virtue of her position in Dr Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, where she holds the position of the president of the women’s wing and that the party lacked capable female candidates to hold major positions in the government.
Her latest actions reflect badly on the government and have questioned Dr Mahathir’s wisdom in candidate selection for ministerial positions.