"As far as I know, when a decision is made and when we have signed it, there are no more changes. No such thing. I don't know what documents you are talking about," Awang Adek told Parliament when winding-up the committee stage debate on the Finance Ministry's Budget 2013 allocation.
Awang Adek was responding to the query from Saifuddin Nasution (PKR-Machang, left) on why a leaked Jan 25 Finance Ministry's Procurement Committee (JPMK) meeting minutesbearing the prime minister's signature showed that Balfour Beatty was awarded the project, but it was later announced that George Kent won the project.
Pakatan Rakyat had claimed that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also finance minister had interfered in the tender process to favour of George Kent, whose chairperson Tan Kay Hock has been described as Najib's golfing buddy.
Najib has insisted that the project tender has been above board.
Instances of Najib's signature being forged
Awang Adek said that the authenticity of the leaked documents were questionable, adding that there have been other instances where the premier's signature was forged.
Following this denial, Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai) interjected and challenged the deputy minister to declare that the leaked procurement documents were false.
"I want an explanation if you are declaring that these documents are false. If you are, then we can use your statement here in Parliament to absolve (PKR strategy director) Rafizi Ramli if he is charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA)," Nurul Izzah (right) said.
Rafizi, who revealed the leaked documents to the press, has since been hauled up by police under the OSA.
This fact alone, Saifuddin then insisted, indicated that the documents were authentic.
However, Awang Adek responded to the challenge by saying: "I have never seen the document before. There are so many documents. Not all of them are real and some could be false."
Earlier, he had said that George Kent was granted the contract because it had achieved the "passing mark" in a technical evaluation.
At this, Saifuddin quoted extensively from the leaked technical evaluation report conducted by consultant Halcrow and commissioned by project owner Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, which showed that George Kent was poorly rated for the project, at third from bottom out of eight bidders.
"I don't know which report you are reading," Saifuddin said.
'Top scorer doesn't make a winner'
However, Awang Adek shot back that the top scorer may not necessarily be granted the contract.
"Just because the marks received are a little low, it does not mean they are not qualified because there is a tender process.
Awang Adek added that even though George Kent had no prior experience in railway projects, it has appointed credible sub-contractors comprising international players.
Saifuddin then claimed that after George Kent received the contract, it approached Balfour Beatty to become its sub-contractor.
"If that is the case, you might as well have given it to Balfour directly," he said.
Awang Adek rebutted: "If we want to give everything to international players, when can our own people do such projects? Let them team up. This is nation-building, to build a peaceful and harmonious country.