Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at Government House. One is from Cabramatta, another is from Marrickville, and the third is from Lane Cove.
All three go with an official to examine the fence.
The Cabramatta contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil.
"Well," he says, "I figure the job will run about $900, $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."
The Marrickville contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says,
"I can do this job for $700. That's $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."
The Lane Cove contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the government official and whispers, "$2,700."
The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys. How did you come up with such a high figure?"
The Lane Cove contractor whispers back, "$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Marrickville to fix the fence."
"Done!" Replies the government official.
And that, my fellow tax payers, is how a Government Stimulus plan works.
THIS KIND OF BUSINESS WAS PRACTICED IN MALAYSIA LONG TIME AGO.
If my fading memory serves me right (I can still remember the gist of things), when Seri Perdana was being built secretly in Putrajaya and was discovered, then PM, Dr Mahathir said it was going to cost only Rm17 million. As it turned out, that incredulous amount could not have paid for the fencing alone!
With the usual padding on costs, some people estimated the eventual cost was easily Rm100 million.
When 'Mr Clean' Pak Lah took over, just upgrading the security system costed over Rm10 million.
When the husband of our First Lady took over, it had to be renovated at over Rm50 million.
The most ludicrous part was the fact that the building is rented property and the rental, as usual, exceptionally high too.
With all the grandiose schemes at highly inflated costs and our ministers living it up and enriching themselves in the process, sooner or later, we will be in dire straits. But not to worry, the burden can easily be passed to the public, in the form of higher fuel prices and soon, GST.
PKR's Rafizi suggested that ministers forego their free petrol and minister Nazri was quick to respond that his was a stupid idea. But come to think of it, small gestures like that could have been good public relations exercise by the ministers. A few years ago, Najib's 'change your lifestyle' was condemned. This time round, a minister's statement that the 20 sen increase per litre of fuel is not going to hurt much and another even calculated that the price increase to consumers should be '0.1% only'were similarly ridiculed with disdain.
While we are still able to do so, can we shelve the proposed 118-storey Menara Warisan Merdeka project for now?