Patriot would like to see the culprits responsible for the more than 350 lopsided contracts seriously dealt with.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas’ revelation on 20 September that there are more than 350 lopsided contracts favouring counterparties drawn by the previous Barisan National-led government is simply shocking. This is shocking with triple exclamation marks.
According to the attorney general, these lopsided contracts involved highways, services, privately financed build-lease-maintain-transfer projects, ports, and procurement. Three or four lopsided contracts with China’s companies in infrastructure projects are bad enough. But more than 350 contracts not in the favour of the government is simply shocking and shameful. It is no wonder our economy has remained stagnant in growth.
Despite being a nation rich in natural resources and blessed with oil, we are not a high-income nation. We have been in a middle-income trap since being categorised as a middle-income economy from 1992. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slowed from an annual average of 9.1% during that period to the current average of 4.8%.
The shockingly high numbers of lopsided contracts obviously provided ill-gotten wealth to many. There is disparity in income distribution. Rising inequality in income – with a disparity between the top 20% income-earners and the bottom 40% is widening. No amount of BR1M payouts could satisfy the financially stressed lower-income group, and it made the much-touted New Transformation Programme under the previous regime sound hollow.
Patriot would like to see the culprits responsible for the more than 350 lopsided contracts seriously dealt with. A special team needs to be formed to renegotiate the terms of the contracts. If necessary, corruption charges or criminal breach of trust be brought against the politicians and civil servants involved. This includes those contracts already performed and closed.
Retired Brigadier General Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.