THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate the procurement of a multi-million ringgit research vessel by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).
The PAC, in its report tabled at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday also recommended for action to be taken against several high-ranking officials from UMT including its two former vice-chancellors over the cost overrun of RM2.4 mil.
The university's former vice-chancellors Prof Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Deraman and Prof Datuk Dr Sulaiman Md Yassin as well as its development director Mohd Zaideen Yusoff were among the officials identified by the PAC for mismanaging the project.
"PAC is unhappy with the procurement management which failed to meet the targeted objective," the report read.
"The PAC found that officials involved were careless and inefficient in discharging their duties.
"Every decision and action is seen to be siding the contractor (Kaymarine Sdn Bhd) and has aroused doubts as well as gives an impression that there has been a suspicious breach of conduct (pelanggaran tata kelakuan yang mencurigakan)," it said.
In its report, PAC had also branded the procurement of RV Discovery as projek sakit or problematic project. "Although the ship was completed, it was not a research ship as per the contract's original objective and it is a waste."
The university had commissioned the construction of the research vessel for RM11.99mil for the purpose of teaching, learning and research in 2004.
The Economic Planning Unit had approved the scope of the procurement via the Ninth Malaysia Plan with a ceiling allocation of RM12.5mil.
However, the project went through two rectifications that led the cost to balloon from RM11.99 mil to RM14.39mil.
"The Marine Department found that the ship needed to comply with the Special Purpose Ship Code and Special Purpose Ship Certificate, however, the Department found that it cannot issue the Special Purpose Ship Certificate and the ship was categorised as a mere cargo ship," said PAC.
The PAC also expressed its disappointment that the Marine Department was not "professional" in issuing the operating approval in June 2012, only to retract it in January last year as the ship did not include a permanent ballast.
The Marine Department then reissued the approval on Oct 18, 2013.
Meanwhile in a press conference later, PAC chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said UMT did not even have the naval architect expertise but it had commissioned for the ship and relied completely on the contractor and Ship Classification Malaysia (SCM).
He added UMT failed to manage the procurement well as it did not exercise due diligence during the pre-tender period and did not do its research on the shareholders and financial stability of the contractor.
"One of the directors in the contractor company is also a shareholder in SCM, so there is a conflict of interest," said Nur Jazlan.
He also said among other serious flaws in the project include the order to change the body of the ship from iron to aluminium, three months’ after the agreement was already signed.
"The work also began prior to obtaining approvals from the authorities on the said changes," said Nur Jazlan.
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