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The Star Online: Nation

MACC: Address failings in the system


PETALING JAYA: The Chief Secretary to the Government has been urged to form a special committee to act on the disgraceful findings of the Auditor-General's Report 2012.

"Immediate action must be taken to address the weaknesses in the system," said the Consultation and Prev­ention of Corruption Panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

It also called on the Chief Secretary to table proposals on improvements that would prevent such failings from recurring.

State governments and government-linked companies (GLCs) must take immediate remedial action as well, said the panel.

"We also support the proposal for a more frequent A-G's Report, such as thrice annually, because this will enable more effective monitoring and supervision, as well as faster remedial action," said panel chairman Datuk Johan Jaaffar.

The panel was disappointed with the discrepancies in the tender systems, supply and procurement systems and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the ministries, agencies, state governments and GLCs concerned.

"We take a serious view of these weaknesses that not only could lead to abuse of power and corruption but undermine the government delivery system," Johan said.

He added that the panel viewed with deep concern the serious acts of negligence in the system of control and supervision, which had even resulted in dangerous assets such as firearms going missing from storage.

"What's obvious is that there is a lack of supervision on suppliers and contractors that (in turn) resulted in shoddy work," he said.

Johan said the panel was also baffled by the fact that despite these weaknesses being highlighted in previous reports by the A-G, they kept on being repeated.

He said that while the panel took cognisance of the remedial mea­sures taken by the various ministries, agencies and state governments in response to the criticism contained in the previous A-G's Report, stronger actions were necessary.

The panel commended Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang's commitment for exposing these weaknesses and the willingness of the Government to be transparent.

"The Government, in accepting the report, is praiseworthy and shows that it has no intention of keeping any part of it out of the public domain, no matter how critical the findings or how much these would result in negative perception," Johan said.

Choo-sen by editors


KUALA LUMPUR: Author Yangsze Choo (pic) was ecstatic when she found out that her debut novel The Ghost Bride was listed as Oprah Winfrey's "Book of the Week".

She was told of the news by her friend, who e-mailed her that the novel was among 48 books in the autumn list, of which the editors of "couldn't stop reading".

"At first, I couldn't believe it. Then I ran around the house shouting 'Oprah! Oprah!'. It was a wonderful endorsement," said the Malaysia-born Choo, who is based in California.

Her novel, a love story in the Chinese world of the dead, was described by the reviewer as "the kind so full of longing, the pages practically sigh as you turn each one".

The Ghost Bride has also earned reviews in USA Today and is listed in Barnes & Noble's Fall 2013 Discover Great New Writers selection.

Despite the accolade, Choo, 40, said her life had not changed much since the book came out two months ago.

"It's just the housework that has fallen by the wayside. I recently had to catch up on two weeks of ironing!" she said.

And she misses the clouds back home in Malaysia.

"There are some spectacular cumulus cloudscapes that you can see almost daily.

"Now that I live in dry and arid California, I miss those clouds.

"At sunset, they sometimes look like an enchanted land of mountains and islands in the sky," she said.

Choo, whose parents are from Perak and whom she contacts frequently via Internet phone, said she had always liked "the limestone ridge of hills that look bluer and mistier as they recede into the distance".

"We spent a lot of time driving to see my grandparents (near Ipoh) before the highway was completed.

"There's something very nostalgic about driving through rubber plantations and past tin-mining dredges on a hot, still afternoon.

"Along the way, we'd have certain must-do stops, such as eating duck noodles in Bidor," she recalled.

Her novel took her about three years to complete.

When it appeared on the bookshelves, it felt surreal to her.

"I wrote the book without thinking of getting it published, so I didn't anticipate anything," she said.

"I'd been writing short stories for years and this book was originally intended to amuse family and friends.

"It was low key because I just wrote as the story occurred to me."

As a child, she was a bookworm.

"My mum was always sending us outside to 'run around and get some exercise'. Instead, I'd climb the mango tree in front of our house and hide there with a book."

A book of strange Chinese tales fascinated her back then.

"One of the most interesting tales in it was The Painted Skin, about a demon who wore the skin of a beautiful woman," she said.

Choo, who did Social Studies in Harvard University and once worked as a management consultant, is married to a Chinese-American whom she met while studying. They have two children.

"My kids love roti canai, char kuay teow, beef ball noodles and sardines (must be Ayam brand). They also like fried ikan bilis and green coconuts, which my dad buys for them and opens at home with a parang. They're always so thrilled by this," she added.

As for her next plan, Choo said she and a comic book artist were working to make The Ghost Bride into a graphic novel.

"I'm also working on another novel although I'm a bit stumped right now," she said.

RM100mil boon for Xiamen University Malaysia campus


KUALA LUMPUR: Xiamen University – China's first university to be set up outside that country – received a boon with a RM100mil donation by local tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok for its campus in Malaysia.

Kuok, based in Hong Kong, gave the money to build a university library, which will be part of the main building.

This was announced by Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, the Prime Minister's special envoy to China, during a luncheon attended by President Xi Jinping here yesterday.

Present were Kuok, businessmen and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

The Malaysian campus of the Chinese university will be built in Salak Tinggi, about 16km from the KL International Airport in Sepang.

It is expected to be operational in September 2015.

"While Chinese education is well protected here in Malaysia, the Chinese community here mingle with other races and live in harmony," said Ong.

Xi, in his speech, said the Chinese diaspora in most countries were successful.

He joked that some China nationals thought that Malaysian singer Fish Leong was from China.

"We have 40 years in strong diplomatic ties with Malaysia and I hope this will last," he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Ong said Xi told him that he and his wife Peng Liyuan tried durians on Thursday night and enjoyed it.

Ong said this was Xi's second visit to Malaysia after visiting Sibu, Sarawak, 20 years ago.


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