Tun M wants Zafrul to make public list of 101 projects

pic by TMR FILE

FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) called on Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to make public a list of the 101 projects which the latter claimed were awarded through direct negotiations by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

“Unfortunately, Tengku Zafrul did not list the projects in detail. So, I call on the list to be released.

“This is to ensure that the principle of transparency is practiced. The sincerity of the minister of finance in this matter is most welcome,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said the people have the full right to the information on this matter.

In Parliament on Monday, during the winding up session for the Ministry of Finance (MoF) — Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Covid-19) 2020 Bill, Tengku Zafrul said a total of 101 projects with a procurement value of RM6.61 billion had been awarded through direct negotiations under the previous government.

His statement caused an uproar, resulting in Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham being ejected from the house. Former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng denied the statement and said the decision to give out tenders via direct negotiations was discussed by the Cabinet.

However, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (Bersatu-Gombak) interjected, saying the matter had never been discussed as claimed. In response to Azmin’s allegation, Lim claimed that Azmin had “forgotten his roots”.

“He (Azmin) has now forgotten where he used to be. He used to do one thing, now he does something else. Has he forgotten that he once was a part of the same Cabinet?” Lim said.

Lim also claimed that PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and other former PH ministers who are now in Perikatan Nasional (PN) had asked for direct awards when the former was the finance minister.

He said Muhyiddin had asked for certain projects involving national security during his time as home minister, some of which were approved.

“So, is the PN PM also guilty of asking for direct tenders at that time?

“Yes, projects could be exempted from open tenders under special circumstances such as times of crisis or natural disasters, or if they involved national security,” Lim added.

He reiterated that Cabinet could decide to opt for direct negotiations as it was still in line with PH’s promises in the election manifesto, which stated that the coalition would in general adopt open tender processes for big projects.

Lim highlighted that even if the figure stated was true, it would only make up some 1.4% of total government procurement worth RM477 billion during PH’s 22-month tenure.

He further questioned the total value of projects given out through direct negotiations compared to total government procurement under Barisan Nasional (BN) and the current PN administrations.

“If he (Tengku Zafrul) wants to make an accusation, back it up with facts and figures.

“Do not slander. Do not try to create a perception to divert attention from flaws in PN,” the Bagan MP told reporters during a press conference in Parliament yesterday.

In defence of any direct awards given when PH was in power, Lim said those were done for necessary projects under special circumstances which were allowed according to the guidelines set by the MoF.

“Can Tengku Zafrul also state the value of projects given through direct negotiation approved by himself under PN?

“Is the value of these projects lower or higher than 1.4% of total government procurement?” he questioned.

The 12 direct awards given under BN listed by Lim included the solar panel project undertaken by Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, which itself is valued at RM1.2 billion. The total value of all 12 projects was RM139.3 billion.

“This is not even the full list. What about the ones approved by Tengku Zafrul under PN’s administration?”

Following this, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement yesterday that it will begin investigations on the 101 projects in question.

The commission confirmed that it has received several memoranda from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regarding the matter.

“MACC will get a list of all 101 projects from the MoF which are said to be given through direct consultation under the previous government.

“A comprehensive study will then be conducted to determine whether there are elements of corruption, malpractice and abuse of power in this regard.”

MACC urged all parties to provide space for the commission to investigate the matter. The NGOs that had lodged a report with the MACC included Parti Cinta Malaysia.