Opaque tender awards scaring away foreign investors, says PAS man
KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Putrajaya’s less-than-transparent system of awarding contracts for mega public projects appears to be putting off foreign firms from investing in Malaysia more than any street rally within the country could, PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad has warned.
The opposition lawmaker noted that international engineering firms were tempted by Malaysia’s burgeoning railway infrastructure projects worth up to RM160 billion that are up for grabs as announced recently by the Land Transport Commission but decided to hold back due to the deepening controversy over the nearly RM1 billion tender for light-rail transit (LRT) expansion works in the capital city.
“The case of the Ampang-LRT is now unfolding and the allegation that Najib and the MoF (Ministry of Finance) have a hand into this matter is now under serious scrutiny by all.
“Not the least is by the international bidders who have spent millions [of ringgit] to be partaking in what was earlier thought as a level-playing field for all,” Dzulkefly (picture) said in a statement to The Malaysian Insider this week.
The Kuala Selangor MP was referring to allegations that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also finance minister, had interfered in the tender and awarded the lucrative contract to a consortium of engineering companies led by local firm George Kent, one of three bidders that failed both the technical and commercial evaluations for the RM960 million contract.
The government was to announce the winning bid for the project last month but has delayed doing so.
Sources told The Malaysian Insider that only five of the eight bidders passed the technical and commercial evaluation stage but project owner SPNB finally recommended one of the two South Korean consortiums in the running — PDA Consortium — as the other consortiums were said to not have complied with all conditions.
“There are a lot more dealings shrouded in mystery than meet the eyes,” Dzulkefly, who heads PAS’ research unit, said.
He noted speculation was also rife that the contract for another LRT expansion project, on the Kelana Jaya line, will be given to a less-qualified company, bucking state-owned Syarikat Prasarana Nasional Bhd’s (SPNB) decision to award it to the Ingress-Balfour Beatty consortium, being the lowest bidder and the most technically-skilled.
SPNB is the government agency overseeing the rail projects.
“It is this and not Bersih or anti-Lynas (groups) that are chasing away foreign direct investments,” Dzulkefly was quoted as saying by his party’s paper, Harakah, in a similar report today.
Malaysia, which is seeking to break out of the middle-income trap and leap into the ranks of high-income economies, is targeting a foreign direct investment (FDI) of RM33 billion this year.
The Najib administration has gone on the offensive against several domestic movements including electoral reform lobbyist Bersih and a grassroots group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) that are seen by pro-establishment groups as jeopardising Malaysia’s draw as an investment hub.