Thursday, 10 October 2013

Auditor General Report - A Double-Edge Sword

By:  Danny Liew Shan Lee

It is with interest that the Auditor General (AG) report 2012 had an unflattering entry on Royal Malaysian Navy.  The report as reported by several alternative media alleged that RMN had suffered loss amounting to RM34.5 million.  

The good news is the audit report appears to be sensationalized by the alternative media.  Of the approved budget worth RM50 million to buy dry ration, the Navy had only spent RM17 million.  That translated into a savings of RM33 million.  The audit issue was that the navy had buffered their request by 94%.  Pop out the champagne, people.  But not quite…

In the pursuit for transparency, this document has been made public.  Any foreign intelligence agencies with sufficient interest of our RMN would be very interested in this document.  Not to forget that in foreseeable future, despite calls for non-aggressive engagement, South China Sea has become even a hotter flashpoint in this part of the world.
Surely, what could have been deduced from the expenditure?  It is just money to buy food.  Any layman will ask that question.  But to an intelligence analyst, this means a lot.  This can only mean several possibilities.

  1. Older rations had not been consumed yet.  Probably true, but it could not have resulted such big savings.
  2. RMN boys are on a special diet to eat less, thus saving millions.  A laughable suggestion.
  3. MINDEF procurement department had managed to find a cheaper supplier.  Rather impossible with the increased cost of living worldwide.
  4. RMN had severely cut its naval patrol duty, resulting in lesser dry ration required A big no no for us, but good news to anyone who would want to have a bigger piece of the Spratly archipelago.

For the laymen out there, there is such a thing called operational research.  Developed by the Brits before World War 2, operational research was used by the Brits to accurately predict composition of German forces in areas which they were unable to cultivate sufficient HUMINT (human intelligence) and intercept SIGINT (signal intelligence).  So accurate was the operational research was that the Brits were able to deduce the total number of Tiger tanks that were produced by German war machineries by variance of less than a hundred.

This greatly assisted the Brits in bringing defeat closer to Nazi German doorstep.  This brings us back to the question of this audit report.  We are not at war with any country, well except for the non-state entity of Sulu Sultanate.  Not today, but can we guarantee tomorrow?  Can we guarantee that in our course to attain further and stronger transparency, that we do not forsake information that could one day be our Achilles Heel?

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