Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Malay Mail, without the the...
Malay Mail will continue to stir shit lah!
Yesterday's back page was interesting. Dr Defensive.
I would love to refute the points made by National Sports Institute director general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz but not now. Later maybe.
And then I might even spill the beans on what transpired between Dr Ramlan and I over mee rebus and cendol at Serdang Jaya recently.
Anyway, enjoy Haresh Deol's Q n A.
MAILSPORT'S recent expose on the National Sports Council's lavish spending has got their former director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz on the defensive.
Ramlan headed the NSC when they approved RM22.4 million for 'professional services, consultancy and hospitality' in 2006 - more than four times the amount they had spent in 2003.
In a compelling interview, Ramlan explains the spending and reveals his 'soft-spot' for former Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said and a possible power struggle within the NSC.
‘Azalina has grand visions’
FORMER National Sports Council director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz is upset with recent reports of extra-ordinary funding expenditure during his tenure at the NSC.
The DG of the National Sports Institute, an ardent Tottenham Hotspur fan who is also brother to music producer Roslan Aziz, headed NSC when they approved spending RM22 million for ‘professional services, consultancy and hospitality’ in 2006
After ‘jamming’ with his Malay College Old Boys band the drummer-guitarist-vocalist speaks to Mailsport’s HARESH DEOL over a cup of tea about Mailsport’s front page expose on NSC’s extravagant expenditure (based on the Auditor General’s Report 2003-2006), his ‘soft-spot’ for former Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said and a possible power tussle within the establishment.
Mailsport (MS): How do you justify the huge amount spent?
Dr Ramlan (DR): We have procedures within the establishment. It’s not like we can simply go to a vault and take out how much we want.
We go through a process with many layers involved. Let’s talk about the National Sports Awards – we have a committee which discusses the cost with the minister and we get an estimate on the budget. If everything goes well, we will approve the budget. Then a form will be filled up and signed by the DG (given approval) and this will be further broken up into different limbs catering to various sub-expenditures where each limb requires further approval.
Once it is approved, only then can the organising committee run the show.
MS: So the approvals simply justify the large amount spent?
DR: The NSC board approves an overall budget in the beginning of the year and we have to work within the budget. If our plans go overboard, then we go back to the board or the chairman of the board (Sports Minister).
What we did (expenditure) was required and needed at that time.
It’s always a learning process for us.
Azalina has introduced a lot of new innovative concepts. At times it’s difficult for us to get a sense of value for money just by looking at achieving the objectives per say.
MS: When will the learning process stop? Don’t you do your homework?
DR: What sort of homework are we talking about? We obtain quotations and normally it’s along the same bracket. But lets say A comes up with a quotation of RM300,000 while B quotes RM60,000. Then you wonder is A too expensive or is B desperate for the job and may not be able to deliver instead. Also we need to see if they are truly professionals or otherwise. That’s how we choose and learn where we can cut costs in the future.
MS: Wouldn’t the RM1.2 million spent on the 2006 National Sports Awards (NSA) be put to better use?
DR: Why don’t we forget about all this and give it to the poor instead? People are constantly pushing the envelope.
The NSA isn’t only about honouring the athletes, but also give them and the public a sense of pride, motivation and determination. For most athletes it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Those days we could be contended with the RTM band but today, perhaps, we need a multiple band. Microphones, sound and lighting equipments are not cheap. There’s also the organisation aspect as well while the prizes (trophies) are of higher quality as well.
We did what was necessary at that time. It works both horizontally and vertically; the standards have risen to cater for a wider spectrum of people.
Azalina is a very open person and responds well to feedbacks put forward in a respectful manner. She has grand visions.
However, the Auditor General’s office looks at numbers and it seems as if we had ‘wasted’ money. And the ‘ticking off’… it is a mere reminder which is also embedded in every other Auditor General’s Report.
MS: You did mention there are certain individuals tarnishing you and Azalina’s image.
DR: I stand by what I’ve said earlier. There is a concerted effort to cast a negative image on her and the officers who had served her. The timing of the issue is simply strange to me, with previous news reports leading up to your exposure…but because we’re the heads, we fly the flag.
I still have difficultly coming to terms (with the issue) but there has been enough of checks and balance done within our organisation.
You may have your opinion of it being excessive, but it’s your opinion.
DR: You seem to have a soft spot for Azalina.
MS: I have a soft spot for all my former bosses.
MS: There are claims of a conspiracy to bring you down.
DR: Things have been mushrooming wildly. Let’s omit this conspiracy. I do this job for the nation.
MS: Some believe you and Datuk Zolkples Embong (current NSC DG) ‘had no business’ participating in the Olympic torch run two weeks ago.
DR: Our business is helping the athletes to do their business. I’ve been to four Olympics –Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 – as the medical officer of the International Olympic Council. I’m sure that means something and I’m honoured to be part of the run and help athletes as well.
MS: There are talks of re-uniting NSC and NSI.
DR: I don’t know. I’m a government servant and obey my bosses’ instructions. There are many options for me to give my feedback and I’m not afraid to share my opinions.
I’m optimistic everything can turn out as good as it can be.
MS: Any last words to your critics?
DR: I’m not distracted by all this and I don’t answer to such critics. We are answerable to our guardians. Ask the athletes and they know best what we’ve done for them.
Perhaps I tend to talk too much and people take me out of context. I prefer to be left alone and concentrate on my job.