Thursday 2 August 2012

LRT deals show PEMANDU policies being ignored, says Pua

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Millions of ringgit in public funds have been wasted to set up PEMANDU because the federal government has repeatedly ignored the Putrajaya efficiency unit’s draft policies to improve corporate governance, the DAP’s Tony Pua said today.

The federal lawmaker pointed to the recent controversial award of two lucrative public light rail transit (LRT) projects in the Klang Valley to bidders who had offered to take them on at high cost, which opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have alleged are signs Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also finance minister, had interfered.

“If the prime minister is in reality going to ignore GTP and award contracts directly to his own preferred vendors regardless of the ‘open tender’ outcomes, then he might as well save the people the hundreds of millions of ringgit spent on the dog-and-pony PEMANDU show,” Pua (picture) said in a statement.

“It is clear that PEMANDU’s role in the Najib’s administration is to present a façade of reformist credentials for the BN (Barisan Nasional) government and to act as apologists for his failure to implement any tangible reforms,” he said.

The DAP publicity chief noted that PEMANDU’s Government Transformation Plan (GTP) project paper clearly stated that “we will reduce leakages of funds allocated for national development and operational expenditure and ensure transparency in the award of contracts” and admitted that “currently the public perceives that there is a lack of transparency in our procurement processes.”

PEMANDU had also said that transparency was a crucial element in improving the government’s procurement process, Pua said.

“As seen recently, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has shown complete contempt of the PEMANDU GTP programme by repeatedly interfering with the award of the projects for the LRT extension programme for both the Kelana Jaya and the Ampang lines,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP said.

He said that in June last year, the Finance Ministry committee that Najib chairs had ordered Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana), the state-owned firm undertaking the infrastructure project, to award the deal to the Hartasuma Sdn Bhd-Bombardier joint venture, whose RM890 million bid was nearly double that of the lowest bid from another group, Ingress Corp Bhd-Balfour Beatty Rail Sdn Bhd, that had offered RM610 million for the job.

Pua pointed out that Prasarana had also recommended the Ingress-Balfour Beatty joint venture to take on the job at that time.

He said the same committee also overturned Prasarana’s recommendations by awarding the Ampang Line project to a George Kent-Lion Pacific joint venture this month. The George Kent consortium secured the contract for RM1.18 billion despite failing both the technical and commercial evaluations for the contract.

“What is beyond belief is that George Kent is a manufacturer and supplier of ‘control instrumentation, telemetry, pipes, valves and fittings, industrial and domestic water meters, boilers’ as well as ‘the manufacture of fibre glass reinforced polyester (FRP) panel tanks for bulk water storage’ can be qualified for a billion ringgit LRT project. George Kent made only net profits of RM19.3 million on revenues of RM152 million for the financial year ended January 31, 2012,” he said.

Rail projects have increasingly come under the spotlight due to the billions of ringgit that are involved, as the country embarks on a rail expansion drive that not only includes the extension of KL’s LRT system but also the new Klang Valley MRT, the southern rail double-tracking project and a possible high-speed rail line to Singapore.

The MRT project tender process was also recently hit by criticism after several multi-national vendors reportedly decided not to participate in the bid to supply rolling stock for the project, citing concerns over favouritism.

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