PETALING JAYA: Datasonic Group Bhd deputy managing director Chew Ben Ben has clarified that the company’s ability to secure its contract to supply passport chips to the government was based on merit.
He said there has been a misleading perception as to how the company had secured its passport contract valued at RM318.75mil in December 2015, after a report emerged in 2014 about how the company had underperformed in its prior contract of supplying polycarbonate data pages.
Datasonic and subsidiary Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd (DTSB) are currently implicated in the criminal charges against former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
In one of the charges, the former deputy prime minister is accused of receiving a RM5mil cheque from a Datasonic director.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – in funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
Chew explained that before 2015, there were three vendors involved in making the Malaysian passport documents, including the printing of the passport book and chips to store data and the polycarbonate data page.
Chew is clarifying following news that DTSB managed to resupply chips for the Malaysian passports despite having an underperformance report.
On Dec 15,2015, Datasonic bagged a contract to supply Malaysian passport chips for a period of five years or 12.5 million passport chips commencing from Dec 1,2016, to Nov 30,2021, for a contract sum of RM318.75mil.Chew said the new 2015 contract had made Datasonic the sole vendor to supply Malaysian Passports.
“In August 2014, there was a report by the Home Ministry sent to the Finance Ministry regarding unsatisfactory performance on the part of Datasonic, ” he said.
Chew said that the alleged shortage in passports was in fact caused by another vendor.
He pointed out that as of September 2014, Datasonic has supplied a total of 4.61 million units of polycarbonate data page without the chip to the Malaysian Immigration Department against the actual demand of 3.5 million passports.
He said that for the 2015 contract, Datasonic had to go through an extensive discussion with the government before it won the project.
“Datasonic were then called in on Sept 22,2014 by the Home Ministry to discuss the company’s proposal to include passport chips into our polycarbonate data page, ” he said.
Prior to the 2015 contract, Chew said passport chips were embedded at the back-cover of paper-based passport booklet by the previous vendor.
“Our proposal to the government that time was to include the chip in our the polycarbonate data page and it was the latest technology mainly used by many developed countries, which is more secure.
“By consolidating the process, he had also helped the government to save about RM75mil, ” he said.
In November 2014, Datasonic was called in by the Finance Ministry together with the immigration department and Home Ministry to discuss Datasonic’s proposal.
“In April 2015, Datasonic had passed all the various tests and after fulfilling all the procurement processes, the Ministry of Finance had decided to approve the contract for the supply of passport chips to Datasonic based on direct negotiation, ” Chew said.
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