Lim: Another scandal has reared its ugly head (Updated)

16 Jun 2019 / 21:56 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal may have reached record proportions, but it pales in comparison with yet another transgression that is just unfolding.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed yesterday that as much as RM75 billion could have been lost over the years to mismanagement at best and cheating at worst in the maintenance of public buildings during the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

Lim said money had been paid regularly to upkeep the buildings but in most cases, the maintenance work was never carried out.

“We are likely to pay billions more over the coming years to repair these buildings,” he said at a Hari Raya open house in Air Putih, his state constituency.

Lim said the buildings that have been left without proper upkeep include schools and hospitals, police stations and military barracks, and even fire and rescue stations.

“In one police station in Bagan, the first floor can no longer be used because it is in a state of disrepair. No maintenance work has ever been done on the building.”

“In several schools in the same district, the toilet facilities can no longer be used because pipes are broken but never replaced.”

Fire and rescue stations as well as hospitals are similarly affected.

Although they remain standing, they are barely functional.

“Only the facade of most of these buildings have been properly maintained while the other parts inside have been left to rot,” Lim said.

He said this mismanagement of public funds, that were supposed to go into underwriting the maintenance works, was prevalent across the country during BN’s tenure.

“As a result, these buildings have now been left in ruins.”

He said the mismanagement and lack of oversight in the maintenance of public buildings had been prevalent since 2008, and “they are likely to have a huge financial impact on the country”.

Maintenance of government buildings are usually outsourced to private companies.

Such maintenance work include painting, repairs, refurbishment and installing of new equipment.

“The previous government left a hefty public debt of RM150 billion, which is equivalent to US$38 billion.

“Even the United States cannot afford to take such a hit,” Lim said.

Of the RM150 billion, he said, RM52 billion was lost through 1MDB, RM17 billion lost by Tabung Haji and RM6 billion in the Felda scandal.

“Of the remaining RM75 billion, the lion’s share of it was to have been spent on maintenance of public buildings.”

On another matter, Lim said the federal government will give due consideration if Penang asks for funds for its transport master plan project.

“It should be done in stages.

“We should discuss the financial architecture before sending an application to federal government.”

Lim also reiterated that there is a need to bring fugitive Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, back to Malaysia to answer for 1MDB.

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