Monday, March 24, 2008


Leaders agree JPPS should be abolished


Local leaders from within and outside the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) Government here yesterday voiced their support for the call to abolish the Federal State Development Department (JPPS). Both the BN and opposition leaders agreed with the contention raised by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee that the Department has outlived its purpose. Assistant Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Donald Mojuntin said that the continued presence of the Department implies a “lack of trust” from the Federal leadership. “As far as I am concerned, there is no need for JPPS because in the last election we have proven that Sabah is very much for BN. “As such, they (Federal leadership) should listen to the opinions of our leaders, because if the Department remains it indicates a lack of trust, not only in our leaders but also our people,” he said when contacted yesterday. Donald, who is also an Upko Supreme Council Member, noted that while he agrees with the abolishment of the JPPS, there must be a mechanism to ensure that any and all Federal development funds allocated goes “directly to the ground”. “A monitoring system must be in place. It’s very simple, even without an audit ur MPs (Members of Parliament) will know how much money will be allocated for which area, so the Federal Gvernment must be transparent. “There must be a mechanism to make the transfer as smooth as possible and make it as direct as possible. Whichever (State) department that takes over will be there just to facilitate the transfer,” he said. Parti Keadilan Rakyat State Information Chief Dr Edwin Bosie meanwhile questioned the rationale behind the Federal Government’s insistence to retain the JPPS all this while. “We have a State Government, so we have the mechanism to develop the State. I do not see the need for the JPPS. “It should be left to the State Government to implement the projects. The Federal Government has its auditors, so they act as the check and balance to ensure the money goes where it should be,” he said. Kota Kinabalu MP cum DAP Kota Kinabalu Chief Dr Hiew King Chew on the other hand charged that the JPPS has been a haven for abuse and wastage of funds. “The Department overlaps a lot of departmental jurisdiction, for example with JKR (Public Works Department) or the Rural Development Department. “The State does not have a hand on the Federal funds. It is all with the JPPS and there is a lack of transparency and fairness. “For example, the RM5 million MP fund goes directly to JPPS and MPs can take RM20,000, no questions asked. All they need to do is putdown their signature without any explanation,” he said. The Consumer Association of Sabah and FT Labuan (Cash) President Datuk Patrick Sindu reiterated Hiew’s claims, saying that the duplication of functions between the JPPS and the various State departments would only lead to numerous complications. “In the entire country, only Sabah has this problem. The Federal funds should be monitored by one department only. “As it is, there is too much red tape, a lot of people are being overtaken with overlapping claims over the same projects and there is too much hanky panky... everything has gone upside- down and it costs a lot of money,” he said. On Yong’s suggestion that the JPPS be established in the opposition-led states in Peninsular Malaysia, Donald said it is a logical progression considering the JPPS’ initial purpose when it was set up in Sabah in 1985, when it was governed by the then opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah. “That was the purpose of JPPS’ establishment here in the first place, to ensure that Federal funds are not misused. However, we need to remove any weaknesses to the system,” he said. Edwin however disagreed with the suggestion, branding the move as regressive. “The JPPS was sent to Sabah for a reason. It was to frustrate the State Government at the time which was not the BN and I don’t think that he is being fair to Malaysians. If he (Yong) thinks it is not beneficial at all to the State Government, why suggest to send it to opposition states?” he said. Hiew avoided a direct answer, saying only that if the opposition were to take over the Government as rumoured, the Department “will definitely be scrapped”. Patrick meanwhile stressed that the Federal Government needs to set its priorities, saying that what is important is for the Federal Government to develop Sabah. “There is too much politicking and I don’t understand why they still want things to remain this way,” he said.