The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) refers to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s revelation in Parliament that the Pakatan Harapan government awarded 101 projects through direct negotiations worth RM6.6bn in the 22 months PH was in power.
Former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng retorted that Zafrul’s figure is a mere 1.4% of the total government procurement worth RM447bn during PH’s 22-month tenure.
While there are established norms where an open tender may not be suitable, such as when in emergency situations and matters pertaining to national security, we remain deeply concerned that these exceptions pose a high risk, where projects approved under special circumstances are easily open to abuse to benefit government cronies with kickbacks or bribes.
C4 Center opines that Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul’s expose in Parliament was but a half-baked exercise and calls for the highest transparency in revealing further details of the 101 projects that were awarded through direct negotiations, the ministry and contractors involved and the reasons the contracts were not awarded through open tender.
In a push for further accountability, we urge the finance minister to reveal the projects that have been offered through direct negotiations since the Perikatan Nasional government came to power. Transparency of the current administration is crucial as the country battles a pandemic and a weak economy.
We further call for a thorough and independent audit of the 101 projects. The audit should cover every aspect including:
- the costing
- the contractors involved
- the persons that made the decision to award the contract
- the criteria involved in choosing the contractor, services or product
- the project delivery timeline
- the status and relevancy of applying the waiver for open tender to the projects
It is imperative that these details be made public.
In times such as this Covid-19 emergency, there appears much room for abuse of power and misappropriation of funds to take place under the cover of emergency reliefs, projects and aid. Zafrul must show his professional mettle and meet this call with high urgency.
It bears reminding that the National Anti-Corruption Plan had placed procurement as the primary area where corruption thrives, amounting to 42.8% of complaints received by the MACC over the years.
As such, efforts to draft a public procurement law, which began under the previous administration, must continue to ensure legislative power to prevent abuse of power.
Malaysians must know how their tax money is being spent.