The above links to an article from Channel News Asia (CNA), citing Home Affairs Minister’s response to the over payment of Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) over a period of 7 years.
What happened was that the Auditor-General Office (AGO) found Deputy Commissioner of Police and Home Affairs Permanent Secretary authorises the increase in allowances for its VSC. The correct authority to approve that increase is the Minister. There were other related findings flagged out as well. The Minister’s explanation is that in essence, the increase in allowance is reasonable and acceptable, implying he would’ve approved it anyway if it was presented to him. It was a procedural error, a lapse in procedure.
It is not uncommon that procedural errors occur in the course of our work. Often, when such errors occur, Ape would ask how and why it occur. Ape seldom look at the consequences of procedural lapses because consequence has a magnitude. In one instance, the consequence can be minor but the same procedural lapse could also result in grave consequences. To illustrate, imagine a procedure put in place that a bus captains have to check the doors are clear of passengers before closing them. Thereafter, ensure the doors are fully closed before driving off. Let’s say a bus captain commits a procedural error by driving off before ensuring doors fully close and it was observed by their internal Quality Control. Since no one was caught by the door or injured and in the interest that the bus captain was trying to achieve efficiency to get commuters reach their destination, we say it’s OK? And to the extent that perhaps the procedure to check door fully close before moving can be dropped? Shouldn’t the bus company look further to determine why the bus captain was not following procedures? Perhaps he wasn’t even aware (lack of training?) Or he thought that QC guy was there and could’ve alerted him if someone was caught by the door (assumptions?) Or the company has strict rules to adhere to scheduled timing (duress?) Or he simply wouldn’t care since he had checked that the door was clear of passengers before closing (complacency?)
Ape don’t know what transpired in parliament other than what was reported in CNA. However, Ape would like to know what makes the DyCP and PS thought they have the authority to make such changes. Why the Minister wasn’t aware that approval has been made to increase the VSC’s allowance? If the Minister has been aware, why he didn’t question who made the approval? Did the Minister know he was the rightful authority to make such approvals in the first place? What other approvals have they made when they do not have the authority to do so? Ape is not hopeful that the answers to those questions will be made public but Ape certainly hope those questions are looked into because if left unchecked, it can snowball into misuse and even abuse of authority.