pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
OPPOSITION lawmakers have demanded for similar investigations to be conducted on directly negotiated contracts that were awarded when Barisan Nasional (BN) was in power, as well as deals that are sealed under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration to ensure that no “double standard” is practised on the matter.
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had no qualms with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) decision to conduct a full probe on the direct award of 101 projects — valued at RM6.61 billion — approved by the Finance Ministry which he then led.
He said the MACC should also examine contracts directly awarded by BN and PN to make sure that those contracts also had no elements of graft, irregularities and breach of public trust.
Lim said this would avoid any negative perception of a double standard practice by MACC.
“We hope the MACC can prove that they are not being used as a political weapon by any parties by conducting a similar comprehensive probe on directly awarded contracts by BN and PN,” he told reporters at the Parliament yesterday.
The federal government also came under fire after Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali was penalised with a RM1,000 fine for flouting quarantine orders — a sum considered trivial compared to penalties imposed on others who committed similar offences.
The MACC in a statement on Tuesday said it will begin investigation on the 101 projects that were awarded through direct negotiations under the PH administration.
The commission confirmed that it received several memoranda from non-governmental organisations on the projects.
On Aug 24, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat that 101 projects were awarded through direct tender when PH was in power.
His statement had caused an uproar in the chamber, resulting in Beruas MP Ngeh Khoo Ham to be ejected from the house.
Lim said the decision to give out tenders via direct negotiations was discussed by the Cabinet.
He said exceptions were made to award contracts directly for one-of-a-kind procurements — those made in times of crisis — and if it involved public interest or national security.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also called on Tengku Zafrul to make public a list of the 101 projects. He said this is to ensure that the principle of transparency is practised.
“The sincerity of the finance minister in this matter is most welcome,” he said in a statement.
Dr Mahathir said the people have the full right to the information on this matter.
Responding to Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail’s (PH-Kulim Bandar Baharu) query if a list will be provided based on claims made by Tengku Zafrul, Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said direct award contracts are allowed by the federal administration.
However, he said the point of contention was that PH had pledged to do away with direct award contracts in their manifesto.
PH’s election manifesto in 2018 stated that the coalition would ensure that an open tender system would be widely and transparently used, especially for mega projects.