Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ticket to ride for cronies? ― Bahaman Borhan

AUG 1 ― How on earth did a company that makes water meters and whose biggest project was RM40 million get the lucrative RM1 billion-odd contract for the Ampang LRT extension?
Why on earth did the Treasury choose the company and its partners after they failed both the technical and commercial evaluations phase for the tender?
How on earth can Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad announce the George Kent-Lion Pacific joint venture as the award winners after its technical committee recommended two other companies for the Ampang LRT Line Extension Project (LEP)?
Is this a crony deal as claimed by PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli? He has been at the forefront in exposing details of the deal despite denials from the authorities that the contract was already decided.
He was proven to be right yesterday when Prasarana announced that the George Kent joint-venture got the deal.
What can we make of this? That the Barisan Nasional (BN) government prefers to deal only with friendly parties who might not have the technical know-how and fail all evaluations, over those who have the technology and charge a lower price?
What does that say to international companies bidding for projects in Malaysia? That they still have to go through local front companies and commission agents who play golf with the right people to get projects? Or are contracts bloated so that they still go to international companies for the right sum, with the extra pocketed by the crony and split with some who have a say in awarding the contract?
I have always believed in the BN when it says that it was for development and progress. That its leaders are selfless and think of the people, which is why Kuala Lumpur needs a better public transport system using rail.
But the Ampang LRT deal and the various awards in the MRT project suggest that these infrastructure projects are just cash-cows for cronies who can jack up prices and win contracts even if they don’t know a thing about railway technology.
Can you trust someone who makes water meters to install a signalling system for a railway line? Was there any thought given to safety considerations? Or will the winning bidder just offer the project to his competitors and take his cut?
Is this how rotten and brazen it has become in Malaysia under BN? Can Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak explain that this deal is above board and was based on recommendations by Prasarana and the Treasury committee that decides the awards?
After all, the police are investigating the documents shown by Rafizi under the Official Secrets Act. So the documents must be genuine. And his claims could be true. Only Najib and Prasarana can tell us differently.
But I doubt they can. The Ampang LRT deal is a ticket to ride for cronies and not for Malaysians.
We’re being taken for a ride to enrich the select few, including a water-meter maker.

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