Towards more transparency

Common ideals: Fadillah said the Works Ministry is trying its best to maintain good governance.

KUALA LUMPUR: The process of awarding projects will always face the possibility of manipulation by contractors eager to win the tender, says Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

He said although the ministry had a system to minimise such opportunities, there would always be attempts to manipulate it once the bidders understand the system.

“We have taken many steps to improve the transparency of tender processes such as having technical evaluation, financial evaluation and (bidders’) background checks.

“The ministry and the Public Works Department are trying our best to be clean and transparent in our governance, which has become more challenging due to the impact to the economy brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, ” he said.

An example of a challenge, Fadillah said, was when at least 100 bidders vied for one project and the perception that when there was a tender process, only those well-connected would get it.

“The best we can do is to close the gap on the possibility of manipulating the processes.

“But humans being humans, nobody is perfect and there will always be people taking opportunities to manipulate the system as they also understand the process, ” he said in an interview with The Star.

Fadillah said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had been a tough period for industry players, it had been a blessing in disguise for the ministry as they had to be creative to ensure the sector’s survival.

“We embraced digitalisation and went online with our tender processes as businesses still had to continue despite the restriction on interstate travel.

“For example, for site inspections, we resorted to using drones where people can observe the sites so that they can submit bids based on the videos that we share, ” he said.

Fadillah said with projects continuously given out during the movement control order to G1 and G4 contractors through concession companies to ensure that everyone got a fair turn, the ministry was now going back to conducting lucky draws which could be carried out online.

He said they carried out a few series of draws where representatives from associations of contractors observed the process to ensure transparency.

“People can observe and we rotate it among all the G1 and G4.

“If projects are RM50mil and above, they will have to go through a tender process.

“For projects worth below RM50mil, we go by rotation as everyone has some kind of expertise and they are given the opportunity.

“Of course, that turn may take a long time coming as the number of projects are not like before, ” he said.

Fadillah added that the ministry also introduced tender bonds where one had to put in a certain amount of bonds if they wanted to bid for projects.

“You have to put in a certain amount. By doing that, we reduce the possibility of people working together to manipulate the system.

“This is not the complete solution as there will still be people trying to undermine the system.

“We cannot do away completely with human interference, ” he said, adding that people needed to be educated on the importance of transparency of governance.

“There is a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission representative in the ministry and the officer observes all the processes.

“I would not say the Works Ministry is one of the more cleaner entities as I leave that to the people to judge.

“What is important is that we are attempting to clean up and we are committed towards this, ” said Fadillah.

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