Recently there has been an uproar in the Malaysian parliament. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government awarded 101 projects through direct negotiation. The total value of the project was RM6.61 billion. Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul made this announcement as he responded to questions on procurement measures during the Covid-19 situation.
Former PH Minister is surprised
Following this announcement, several BN MPs called for answers from Bagan MP, Lim Guan Eng (DAP). He was previously the Finance Minister during the PH government. Initially, Lim Guan Eng tried to deny this. He claimed the Cabinet discussed and decided on giving out tenders via direct negotiations. MP for Gombak, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali interjected his response. DS Azmin was also the former Economics Minister during the PH administration. DS Azmin Ali insisted Lim Guan Eng’s claims never discussed in Cabinet. He added that Lim’s claims were untrue.
This furore hasn’t ended there and the debate has gone on media as well as social media.
Why is this an issue?
It shouldn’t be an issue. Many governments award procurement contracts without tender all the time. Sometimes it occurs between government-linked companies of both nations. It can happen when there is a unique proposal or a unique selling point for the organisation. Singapore (a country known to be one of the least corrupt) is one good example. Singapore negotiated directly with Formula 1 Group (the organisers of the F1 races) to hold the F1 race in Singapore. There is only 1 Formula 1 organiser in the world.
BN has awarded many contracts without tender, so why are fuss about PH government?
When the PH government took over in May 2018, there were many changes to the head of government departments. The arrival of Latheefa Koya as the head of MACC was one of those significant changes. Before her appointment, she was a member of PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat). PKR was then the largest component party in the PH alliance. She was no ordinary member either as she was also in the Central Executive Committee of the PKR party. The decision to appoint her as MACC chief is still very controversial.
What do we do about the RM6.61 Billion and previous PH government?
On the basis of public accountability, we urge the government to be fully transparent. It must disclose the complete list of awarded contracts in full. MyProcurement is the Malaysian government’s website for procurements and tenders. The website has become a “white elephant”. A quick look at it indicates a record of only 314 projects. The latest project being from 2017. This illustrates the PH government did not update or utilize it. By releasing all the contract details awarded we can finally find the truth of both the PH and opposition claims.