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This is a statement by independent, not-for-profit research institute REFSA (Research for Social Advancement) released on Wednesday, 9 Nov 2011 following revelations in the Auditor-General’s 2010 Report and various media articles.
Original posting by REFSA here.
So, Malaysian beefeaters were very hopeful when the government boldly announced the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) cattle-rearing project in 2008. This joint venture between the Negeri Sembilan state government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry to produce beef locally and cut down on imports was touted as a High Impact Project under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
With the very bullish vision of “attaining 40% self sufficiency for beef production by 2010,” producing 8,000 heads of cattle in 2010 was the grand target. So, the project got a big kick-off with RM74 million and 5,000 acres of land in Gemas.
8,000 cattle would be expected to generate plenty of smelly mess; and we would have been only too pleased if that were the case. Alas, the recent Auditor-General’s Report revealed that the stink was generated by 2-legged bipeds with opposable thumbs, not by 4-legged bovines.
RM182 million had been channelled into NFC as of 31 July 2011 to implement this project. Mismanagement, inefficiency and incompetence culminated in a measly total of 3,289 cattle roaming a badly-kept farm overgrown with prickly shrubs.
The NFC beef is ironically called ‘Gemas Gold.’ Working out at RM184 per kilogram, the bulls from NFC don’t quite cost as much as gold bullion (not yet, anyway), but they are certainly in the realm of the legendary Wagyu beef favoured by connoisseurs. Wagyu cattle carcasses go for between RM30,000 to RM60,000 each. ‘Gemas Gold’ cattle cost RM55,000 per head as of 31 July.
Now here’s the rub. The National Feedlot Centre is linked to somebody in the government. Thanks to the revelations of the Auditor-General, the red flags are out on the family of Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Shahrizat. The minister’s husband Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and their children are involved in the management, or mismanagement, of NFC.
NFC has quite clearly failed in its so-called ‘noble’ aim to develop a “fully integrated livestock farming and beef production facility that manages the import of livestock, feedlotting, slaughtering, processing, packing and marketing of beef in Malaysia” as stated in its website. Also, its stated mission “to lead the industry in a manner that fosters excellence and integrity” now sounds like utter bull.
For the amount poured in, NFC could have supplied wagyu beef with its “trademark marbling and tenderness.” The NFC beef surely does not exhibit this fine quality but its cost of production exceeds that of wagyu. The bottom line is, we are paying super premium prices for purely run-of-the mill local beef.
Sadly, throwing good money after bad describes the way things are done in government. Where NFC is concerned, we suspect more money will be bulldozed through to revitalise this failed cattle-rearing project.
NFC is a ‘High Impact’ project alright. High in its impact on taxpayers. We get a strong feeling of déjà vu every time the Auditor-General’s report is issued. We wonder at the wastage and inefficiency that exemplify government initiatives year after year. The careless way money is spent is appalling.
Dare we hope that NFC be the bulwark of the new Malaysia? That the perpetrators who generated so much red ink and so little fodder be brought to account? PEMANDU says that the government will pursue an agenda of “… reduction of leakages of funds allocated for national development and operational expenditure as well as ensuring transparency in the awarding of contracts…?”
Did the government not make the clarion call for an “institutional framework for detecting, prosecuting and punishing offenders…” for abusing power and public funds? Will it take the bull by the horns? Will there be any action taken for this bungling and blatant lack of transparency, or are the words so smugly displayed on the PEMANDU website merely rhetorical? Only with transparency and accountability can Malaysia develop.
Sandra Rajoo, Contributing Editor
REFSA – Research for Social Advancement
PDF document also available for download here.
 Audit finds minister’s family made mess of national cattle farming project. The Malaysian Insider, 25 Oct 2011.
 Najib refutes allegation of power abuse in RM250 million soft loan to feedlot project. Bernama, 1 Nov 2011.
 Assuming about 600kgs per live cow x 50% meat cuts (ie the rest are bones, offal and fat) x 3,289 cows = 987,000 kilogrammes of beef.
 Source: www.wagyu.net. A price range of US$10-20,000 was cited. Retrieved on 7 Nov 2011.
 PEMANDU website www.pemandu.gov.my. Under “NKRAS, Fighting Corruption, What You Can Expect to See in 2011, Reduce Leakages in Government Procurement”. Retrieved on 7 Nov 2011.
 PEMANDU website. Under “NKRAS, Fighting Corruption, What You Can Expect to See in 2011, Tackling Grand Corruption”. Retrieved on 7 Nov 2011.