Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Open Tenders?

This is getting really difficult to swallow. In 2004, Pak Lah specifically promised that all government contracts will be competitively tendered. Pak Lah told Malaysian business leaders that Kuala Lumpur needed to make the contract awarding process “transparent, with open tendering the norm”. I believed. Or rather, I so really wanted to believe, that Malaysia was going to undergo a period of positive change.

Over the past 2 years alone, major and significant contracts have been awarded without competitive tendering.

And I feel like such a sucker today.

I'm a fan of the KL Low-Cost Carrier Termainal (LCCT). But did you know that the RM280 million contract to build the terminal was granted to a listed company without calling for competitive bids?

As part of the 9th Malaysia Plan, UMNO-linked UEM World was awarded the estimated RM2-3 billion second bridge in Penang. Again, it's going to be a direct negotiation between the Government and the company, and no price has been fixed yet.

More recently, the Ministry of Works announced an unexpected RM400 million new palace for the Yang Di-Pertuan Agung. And surprise, surprise, the contract has been awarded to a certain “Maya Maju”, with no known expertise and experience in large-scale constrcutions. According to research by Maverick SM, Maya Maju (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd is privately owned dormant RM5 million paid up company with no revenue and only 2 shareholders. On what merits were they awarded the contract?

And today, I read in the Star that a RM600 million contract has been awarded to Projek Lintasan Shah Alam Sdn Bhd (PLSA) to connect the Kesas Kota Kemuning Interchange with the Federal Highway. PLSA is 90% owned by Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas), the concessionaire for the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur elevated highway. Once again, no open competitive tender for the Highway project?

Again, no one knows the terms of the contract with the concessionaire? And again, in years to come, we'll face annual exorbitant increase in toll charges due to unfair contracts which the Government would claim they can't do much about. Otherwise, as per Datuk Seri Samy Vellu's out-of-tune over-played recording, “the Government could not afford to compensate the concessionaires”.

Nobody is quibbling with the fact that many of these projects are indeed necessary and potentially beneficial for the Rakyat. However, in the interest of an efficient and productive economy, in the interest of transparency and integrity, and in the interest of the tax-payers' hard-earned money, where are the competitive open tenders promised for Government projects?

Pak Lah's promise of open tenders for Government projects have become an Open Season for UMNO cronies, particular for the much touted 9th Malaysia Plan projects. To quote the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Sdr Lim Kit Siang, 'The Prime Minister promised to walk the talk. I only hear the talking, where's the walk?'
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