First, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri said the RM30 million renovation of the Prime Minister’s official residence – Seri Perdana – was done after taking into consideration safety factors and to uphold the country’s image when welcoming foreign guests. The renovation includes electrical improvement, mechanical wiring, air-conditioning systems and structural renovation.
The scope of the renovation also involved replacing old furniture to fit the status of the Malaysian leader. Then, Special Functions Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad revealed that the cost of the renovations was actually higher – RM38.5 million – after it attracted criticisms and scrutiny. He claimed the renovations were necessary as the building had “suffered a lot of damage” in the 22 years since it was built.
Latiff said the project, which was approved on March 19 by then-PM Muhyiddin Yassin (before his resignation on August 16), commenced on March 29 and was expected to be completed by Dec 7 this year. While saying the renovations is 74% completed, Mr Latiff, however, refused or dared not elaborate what he meant with “suffered a lot of damage”.
Today, Muhyiddin, clearly caught with his pants down, finally stepped forward to admit that he personally approved the RM38.5 million renovations. To justify his approval, the former PM began to whine, moan and bitch about old lighting systems, poor flooring conditions, leaking roof, piping systems that damaged built-in cabinets, wooden flooring, wall panels and whatnot.
Heck, Mr Muhyiddin even claimed that so-called experts told him that the Prime Minister’s official residence could pose a fire risk if repairs were not carried out immediately. He talked as if Seri Perdana is on the brink of collapse with physical damage and obsolete wiring so terrifying that it made any 50-year-old low cost flats in the country look like Bill Gates’ mansion.
So, was the renovations approved to uphold the country’s image, as if there are foreign dignitaries who really wanted to come and stay during the current Covid-19 pandemic, or were there really serious damages in the first place? PM Sabri’s statement did not sound life threatening three days ago, but Muhyiddin’s remarks today suggest that the entire residence was not fit for human beings.
Is there anyone who actually believes that an official residence for the prime minister would be left unattended and allowed to be deteriorated to such a deplorable level? Was the residence totally unoccupied and without any housekeeping? The clueless, incompetent and corrupt governments of Ismail Sabri and his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin should stop insulting people’s intelligence.
The best part was when Muhyiddin said he never occupied Seri Perdana during his time as prime minister. Exactly why did Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin see it as a jolly good decision to splash RM38.5 million renovations on a residence that he never plan to occupy? Worse, why waste so much taxpayer’s money during a time when people were struggling to put food on the table?
Even though Seri Perdana is already 22 years, it does not make sense that the official residence of the prime minister would be in a shape worse than that of the average Joe and Jane’s house, apartment, flat or condominium built in the same year. And it’s certainly a lie to say a 22-year-old property could suffer the extent of damages as described by both Ismail Sabri and Muhyiddin Yassin.
Even a low cost house constructed in the 1980s, which was built with inferior materials than Seri Perdana designed in 1990s for the most powerful man in the country, does not suffer damages that could pose a fire risk today. Unless the Prime Minister’s official residence was a “squatter house”, the exorbitant RM38.5 million renovations were nothing but yet another corruption project.
The Seri Perdana Complex, which was built in 1997 and fully completed in 1999, saw Mahathir Mohamad as its first resident during his 22 years iron-fist rule (from 1981 to 2003). It consists of halls for VIP, meeting and banquet, as well as South Garden, North Garden, Administration Office and the PM’s main house. The last resident was former PM Najib Razak.
Crooked Najib was ousted in the May 2018 General Election, the first defeat for the corrupt Barisan Nasional government in 61 years since independence in 1957. So, the burning question is how could Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor lived there comfortably and happily without any fear of being roasted due to potential fire, let alone the risk of drowning as a result of leaking pipes?
When Mahathir became the prime minister for the second stint in May 2018, he and wife Siti Hasmah decided not to move to Seri Perdana. The official reason was that the PM’s official residence was too huge. The unofficial reason – the residence was not only tainted with negative energy, but was corrupted by years of dark black magic thanks to Auntie Rosie.
That explains why even Muhyiddin had refused to move into Seri Perdana. Regardless whether the residence was haunted by evil ghosts or polluted with black magic, there was absolutely no reason to splurge RM38.5 million on the mansion. If there isn’t any black magic, it’s even worse to waste that money, considering Najib and Rosmah had stayed there just three years ago.
In truth, over the years, there had been many rounds of renovations on Seri Perdana. In the Budget 2011, a new round of renovations to the tune of RM65 million was proposed under Najib administration. During Abdullah Badawi premiership, the same residence had also undergone several rounds of renovations. Every time a new prime minister takes over, renovations take place.
Yes, Najib should be the last person qualified to grill Muhyiddin over the RM38.5 renovations. Both former prime ministers were equally corrupt in approving renovations during their respective administration in exchange for kickbacks. From the beginning, the Prime Minister’s Palace was designed to enrich the prime minister of the day with dubious projects.
Actually, till today, nobody knows the actual cost of building Seri Perdana. In July 1998, Mahathir administration said the home of the prime minister would cost only RM17 million. Later, UMNO warlord Nazri Aziz said the cost was RM24.17 million. Then the Parliament was told the total cost was RM75.4 million. In May 1999, the government said another RM45 million on “software” had to be spent.
By 2003, then-Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz revealed the sixth version of the cost of Seri Perdana – RM201 million. So, the total cost had ballooned from RM17 million to RM201 million. But the real killer is the cost of endless renovations every time a prime minister awards the project to his relatives or cronies.
In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say RM38.5 million can build a new Seri Perdana on existing land through open tenders. Still, the residence is too huge. At 56,000 square feet, Seri Perdana is roughly the size of the Ground Floor, State Floor, and residence floors of the White House, which is approximately 55,000 square feet.
Even the notorious former Selangor Chief Minister Khir Toyo reportedly had spent only RM20 million building his bungalow, including exclusive top-of-the-range fixtures and furniture from Bali, on a 50,000 square feet of land. Of course, Mr Khir claimed he took a RM3.5 million loan to buy the sprawling Balinese-style mansion, which, if true, is cheaper by more than 10 times the Seri Perdana’s renovations.
So far, we have not heard that Khir Toyo had to spend RM38.5 million in fixing damages due to wear and tear on his bungalow. But when you think how Muhyiddin blatantly spent a jaw-dropping RM35 million to build three useless halls in Johor, the scandal involving Seri Perdana renovations makes perfect sense. It was another project that screams corruption.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should start investigating the renovation project. The contractors and the details of the renovations should be revealed to all and sundry to see. You can build hundreds of affordable houses for the poor, or feed more than 5,000 people with Kentucky Fried Chicken “dinner plate” for an entire year (365 days).
Source : Finance Twitter
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, says a palace guard in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Pardon me but I have to borrow this phrase uttered by an officer of the palace guard after the ghost of a dead king appears, walking through the palace walls.
Since then, many judges and lawyers have used this phrase to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong.
Obviously, recent actions by Putrajaya brought this phrase back to my mind. One of them was the shocking disclosure in Parliament that RM30 million was spent on refurbishing the prime minister’s Seri Perdana Complex.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the renovations started when Muhyiddin Yassin was the prime minister, and were necessary to ensure safety as well as to preserve the country’s image during visits by foreign dignitaries.
Part of the money was also spent on replacing old and dilapidated furniture to “fit the status of the official residence of the Malaysian prime minister”. Ismail further said the renovation is going on as scheduled, and the progress was at 60% as at Aug 30.
The renovations were approved last year, at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, when many ordinary Malaysians were going through a tough time with hundreds of thousands of people having lost their jobs, not forgetting the thousands who lost their homes with no place to stay.
I am not saying the money could have been spent on them, but did not government leaders for one moment consider the sensitivity of spending so much on the comfort of one man and his family while the frontliners and the poor are struggling out there?
In another reply in Parliament last week, MPs were told that more than RM1 million was spent on renovating the offices of two ministers and two deputy ministers, including changing their furniture.
This works out to RM500,000 each and to do this during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic when millions are wondering where their next meal is coming from is totally unacceptable. Never mind it was done within the stipulated regulations, that is not the issue.
Nothing, I repeat, nothing can justify these actions and no Malaysian other than some politicians will, accept this as a norm. Muhyiddin’s poor “Mak Cik Kiah” who is selling kueh on the roadside is not going to understand this. I guess no one is interested in knowing how comfortable a minister’s sofa set is or the chair that he sits on.
Another special adviser
In another strange decision involving government expenditure, foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah announced the appointment of a special adviser on Afghanistan affairs. What? Another special adviser? Social media went berserk asking this question.
This appointment makes little sense really. I am sure we have a team of senior officials handling affairs of selected countries in Wisma Putra who obviously liaise with our missions in those countries.
We already have three special but unnecessary envoys – Abdul Hadi Awang to the Middle East, Tiong King Sing to China, and Richard Riot as special envoy to East Asia, all with the full status and perks as ministers.
The monthly cost of each appointment can easily add up to about RM50,000 including salaries, assistants, cars and claims. Aren’t these appointments an overlap with Malaysia already spending millions on foreign missions? Isn’t this what our high commissions and embassies should be doing?
With these unnecessary appointments at a time when every cent saved could go towards feeding starving children and senior citizens, National Recovery Council chairman Muhyiddin Yassin came up with a ludicrous suggestion.
Again one which will incur much expenditure and will also overlap the duties of many existing departments in the state and districts.
He has proposed that the government establish state recovery councils to enable a bottom-up approach to the country’s economic recovery, saying these bodies could ensure strategies and initiatives put in place are monitored at the district level.
Doesn’t he realise this will entail additional expenditure running into millions because you have to pay allowances, employ officers and operate an office?
But the point many are making is why do we need such a council at those levels when you have state and district health departments besides many other related agencies that can be synergised to tackle the pandemic. Actually, many are already doing it.
Don’t forget we also have the state executive councillors, among whom is the chairman of the health committee. Many, I am told, are underworked at the moment. They can easily handle the recovery process, it’s their duty too.
One wonders if the suggestion of state recovery councils is tied to a political motive which will allow the national recovery council chief to appoint supporters as a political reward to build their base before the next general election. The way appointments are being made these days, I will not put it past them.
Source : FMT