Syed Saddiq in war of words


THERE was a showdown between the Youth and Sports Minister and his predecessor as debate raged in the Dewan Rakyat over the tenders for projects, particularly for the SEA Games last year.

Current minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said despite an earlier RM100mil corruption scandal in the ministry, it had at that time continued with procurements not made by open tender.

“Last year, RM264.2mil worth of projects did not undergo open tender compared to RM173.7mil worth of projects that did.

“Auditing on the tenders issued during the SEA Games last year is being finalised by the National Audit Department. We are expecting a full report in September,” he said in his reply to debate on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address.

However, former minister Khairy Jamaluddin insisted that all procurements had gone through stringent checks and were approved by the Finance Ministry.

“There were more procurements in 2017 through direct negotiation and open tender due to the SEA Games. But just because it went through this process, this did not mean that there was no due diligence.

“Open tender also does not work for all procurements. For example, the IT supply for the SEA Games was done by open tender and we gave it to the lowest bidder, whose margin was RM30mil to RM40mil lower than the second lowest bidder.

“I wanted to give it to the other company but it was too expensive. It turned out that the recipient could not follow through with our demands,” Khairy said.

Red mist: Syed Saddiq and Khairy clashing over tenders for projects.

In his speech, Syed Saddiq outlined a five-pronged approach for a total revamp of the ministry to combat corruption on account of a senior official being arrested and charged with RM100mil embezzlement in 2016.

“Firstly, all procurements will be by open tender from now on. Se­­condly, we will have a Ma­­laysian Anti-Corruption Commis­sion (MACC) officer in-house who operates independently and has full powers to investigate my office.

“Thirdly, we will conduct forensic accounting and a comprehensive audit. Fourthly, all members of the minister’s office, including myself, must declare our assets.

“Lastly, we will restart and finalise the Corruption Mitigation Report by the MACC, which should have been done last year but was ordered to be stopped in May 2017 under the previous government,” he said.

Khairy then responded that the amount of the 2016 scandal was ac­­tually RM38mil and not RM100mil.

“You must make sure that what you state is accurate. That is lesson number one.

“On the Corruption Mitigation Report, the truth is that on May 18 that year, the MACC deputy commissioner issued a statement to inform that it was to be postponed to a later date.

“It did not come from my ministry or the executive. Do not make incorrect insinuations – lesson number two,” he said.

Earlier, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim said that it was in the Top 10 list of most corrupt ministries.

In the MACC’s Public Service Cor­ruption Report, the ministry was ranked eighth among 25 ministries.

Admitting this, Khairy blamed the poor ranking on the 2016 corruption scandal, adding that since then, it had worked to ensure compliance and cooperated with the MACC and Audit Department.