Like many Malaysians, Sarawakians are shocked at the lavish lifestyles of Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor. both have been in the scandal sheets of late over a series of spending-related scandals.
These included a RM24 million diamond ring, abuse of power in scheduling an official trip to match a personal engagement, plus unnecessary and exorbitantly-priced renovations to Seri Perdana, the official residence of the PM.
And these also despite the warnings from two ministers in Najib’s own department – Idris Jala and Koh Tsu Koon - that Malaysia will go bankrupt if its leaders do not rein in spending, cut subsidies and reduce borrowing.
“We do not want to end up like Greece with a total debt of EUR300 billion. Our deficit rose to record high of RM47 billion last year (2009). If the government continues at the rate of 12 per cent per annum, Malaysia could go bankrupt in 2019 with total debts amounting to RM1,158 billion,” The Star reported Idris as saying on May 27 last year.
Don’t overdo it, it’s our money
Now, 2019 is just about 7 short years away and even the man in the street knows enough to warn the first couple not to “overdo it” with the people’s money, but save it for a rainy day.
“Kamek sik setuju dengan perbelanjaran yang sesuka-hati Najib, serta bininya sebab dia orang sik duli kesusahan rakyat di Sarawak. Kitak sepatutnya ada duit untok membina dan membaiki jalan-raya dan sekolah tapi sampai sekarang, jalan pun buruk-buruk, sekolah pun tua-tua. Sekolah anak kamek dipaksa pindah sik lama lagi sebab tanah sekolah hanya disewa keluarga Ong, inilah hal yang di buat pihak perintah!” Dominic, a van driver, told Malaysia Chronicle during a vox pop interview.
Which translated into English means, “We don’t agree with the indiscriminate expenditure of the PM and his wife as they don’t care about the difficulties of the people in Sarawak. We actually should have more funds for better construction and repair of roads and schools, but until today, the roads are still deplorable and schools here are very old and run-down. My children’s school will be forced to relocate soon because the land is leased from the Ong (Tiang Swee) family, this is the type of action by the government!”
Another shocked response came from Albert, a government employee; “Najib and his wife should not fleece the people. Officials are always trying to overstep their boundaries, this is a clear abuse of power and as a government staff, I am disgusted with all the profligacy.”
Bankruptcy sooner now!
There is now concern that bankruptcy might come sooner than 2019 – no thanks to the excessive lifestyle of the first couple. and the ordinary folk are not just saying this tongue in cheek, and for a giggle at Najib’s and Rosmah’s expense, but real worry does cloud their horizon.
Facing the worst of the several price hikes by the Najib administration, the lower and middle income groups are not just battling higher cost of living on day-to-day items, they are also stunned at the way property prices have run away and left them far behind. few Malaysians can afford a decent home or car these days. They have to settle for poor quality, mass-produced houses and the ubiquitous but trouble-prone Proton cars.
Najib’s recently unveiled Budget 2012 was meant to help the lower-income people, but it only contained “one-off” aids. There were no long-term or middle-term planning offered that could help alleviate the pressure on the poverty-stricken or those about to be pushed into poverty by inflation.
Instead, Najib once again turned on the cash ‘tap’ to dish out ‘ang-pows’ in a bid to win over the masses into voting for him and his coalition in the next general election.
“PM and wife must exercise greater care in spending taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Government ust also release detailed breakdown of expenses,” PKR vice president N Surendran chided.
A trail of spending
So far, confirmed reports show that on August 31, Merdeka Day, Najib went for a ‘private visit’ to Perth, Australia. The PM and his family took the opportunity to sneak away for a holiday without informing the country and defying government protocol in the process.
On top of this, the premier still had not cleared up whether he had indeed misused public funds during an official visit to Kazakhstan, where his daughter was getting engaged. The Kazakh trip ended up costing Malaysians more than RM1 million. no wonder, there was public outrage when the news broke.
Then Najib’s wasteful public relations campaign for which he paid hundreds of millions from the national coffers for, but which ended up boomeranging at the country after it was found that the firm FBC Media had breached ethical rules in its desperation to ‘sell’ Najib in a positive light. The probe now being conducted by UK regulators against FBC will further embarrass Najib and Malaysia as well.
The renovations at the already-recently renovated Seri Perdana to make it a residence ‘truly fit-for-a-King’ also riled up Malaysians. Confirmed reports show that the palatial accommodation for Najib and wife came up to RM48.8 million. Electricity consumed by them was RM10 million alone, while the water bill flooded-in at RM1.9 million yearly.
But the last straw must surely be the RM24 million – some reports say USD24million – diamond ring that Rosmah purportedly imported from new York. Although Najib has denied his wife had bought the gargantuan diamond ring, and his office has confirmed the ring has since ‘left’ the country, few Malaysians are able to shake off the suspicion that the First Lady had indeed salivated at the prospect of owning it, but had to give it up due to the bad press.
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