Malaysia

Scorpene-linked firm part of George Kent consortium, says Rafizi

By Ida Lim
July 13, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli has asked why a French multinational that was involved in the sale of Scorpene submarines to Malaysia was allowed to form multiple partnerships to mount three bids for the lucrative Ampang LRT extension project.

He also alleged that Thales is part of the George Kent consortium that is speculated to have won the contract.

The PKR strategic director suggested that the preferential treatment given to Thales pointed to interference in the selection process by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Rafizi (picture) said that Thales was involved in three out of eight shortlisted consortiums in state-appointed consultant Halcrow’s technical evaluation report, namely, George Kent-Wijet-Thales, Colas-CMC-Thales and Samsung-LG-Thales.

“From the list of bidders, no other transport technology suppliers are allowed to send more than one bid, except for Thales,” said Rafizi, adding that this “favourable treatment” was against the usual “good practice” in a tendering process.

Rafizi said this “reflected the close relationship between Datuk Seri Najib Razak and this company (Thales) since the Scorpene purchase.”

He was referring to the Scorpene submarine procurement deal where Thales was said to have made transactions with companies linked to Abdul Razak Baginda, a former adviser of Najib.

Rafizi has repeatedly claimed that Putrajaya has decided to hand over the Ampang LRT extension project to the George Kent consortium, and has accused Najib of interference after alleging that the group had not been selected by the bidding panel.

On Tuesday he showed reporters a copy of a Ministry of Finance approval letter dated last June 25 purportedly awarding the deal to George Kent.

The government has not made an announcement yet on the winner of the contract.

Rafizi has repeatedly accused the prime minister of interfering in the tender bid and granting the multimillion contract to George Kent, which had scored one of the lowest points in the technical and commercial evaluation for the project, but has not shown proof until this week.

This was despite an earlier decision by Putrajaya to award the multi-million ringgit rail project to Balfour Beatty-Invensys Consortium, which Rafizi said was best qualified for the job.

The rail builders led by the British engineering firm were the lowest bidders for the LRT open tender that closed on June 16 last year, offering to take on the project for RM950 million. The highest bid was for RM1.45 billion.

PKR officials have shown copies of official documents to the press, showing that the MoF’s Acquisition Committee, which met this January 25, had decided to award the contract to Balfour Beatty-Invensys Consortium.

The committee is the highest decision-making body in the MoF and is chaired by Najib himself, who is also finance minister.

PKR had recently lodged a police report on the issue, citing Najib for criminal breach of trust in his alleged interference in the project award, which has yet to be announced publicly.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has also kicked off investigations at Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB) over the RM960 million contract.

The Malaysian Insider reported on June 29 that the speculated winner of the Ampang LRT system works, George Kent, was one of three bidders that failed both the technical and commercial evaluations for the RM960 million contract.

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.

The PKR man has pledged to make the Ampang LRT extension contract a major campaign issue at the next general election.