Don’t ever use govt subsidy for gambling, cautions Uggah

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By Lian Cheng and Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 21: Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Rural Development (MANRED) Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has warned that using government subsidy for cockfighting may be a form of corruption.

He explained that it is the ministry’s objective to disburse subsidies and assistance to those in need and deserving.

“If the fertiliser is for those planting black pepper, then the fertiliser must reach the black pepper planters.

“And when we choose who to give the subsidies to, don’t just give it to friends only or to those using it for cockfighting. According to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision (MACC), that is a form of corruption.

“We want all those who deserve (the subsidy) and need assistance to be assisted,” said Uggah when addressing his ministry’s staff at its Integrity Day held at a hotel here today.

He said it would be a very difficult task to identify those deserving ones, especially when the ministry has only one officer stationed in one district. However, he added, if the staff had the commitment, then good disbursement and management of resources could be achieved.

“So, it is indeed a challenge, and that is where problems begin to arise and that is where the commitment of civil servants is needed.

“They may be sent to a very rural area but with a strong commitment to assisting the people, nothing cannot be done. That is the spirit I want to instil in all of you. The spirit of ‘We Can’. The spirit of ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’,” said Uggah, who is also a Deputy Chief Minister.

On venture capital, which is a new initiative, he said this was another delicate programme as there was no instrument to measure the integrity of the farmers.

“Venture capital is a very new programme and one that is also very delicate to handle because there is no clear instrument to use to measure the integrity of the farmers that we have. So a lot of it depends on subjective assessment and so on. But that should not stop us from implementing the programme,” he pointed out.

He said as venture capital is a new programme, he would allow his staff to make mistakes, but he would not take it lightly if those entrusted with the task take advantage of their positions.

“We work up the SOP (standard operating procedure), we work up the programme, follow rules and regulations. If we make mistakes along the way, Datuk Ik Pahon (Joyik, MANRED Permanent Secretary) and I will be very understanding.

“But along the way, if you take advantage of your position, we will not be understanding, and MACC will enter (in the picture),” he cautioned.

He reminded those present at the gathering that the rakyat nowadays demanded transparency. Nothing could be hidden, and what is hidden would be uncovered.

“When they (people) heard that we have a lot of allocation, they wait, (they) wait to see when the allocation will arrive. (They will ask) is this allocation benefiting the contractor, the supplier, or the people?

“That is when all of us have to be very, very careful,” he said, adding that projects to be awarded under MANRED would have to go through proper tender procedures and to be managed with transparency, which, according to him, was actually easier to manage. — DayakDaily