DRT contract only valid for nine months, says Asia Mobiliti

KLANG: Asia Mobility Technologies Sdn Bhd (Asia Mobiliti), one of the two companies awarded Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT) contract by the Selangor government by direct negotiation, says that the appointment is only valid for nine months.

In a statement issued by its board of directors on Monday (May 27), the company said the appointment also required extensive investment from both service providers in terms of procuring vehicles, hiring drivers and further development of the technology powering the service.

Asia Mobiliti said the DRT contract was awarded to not one but two different companies, by the Selangor government and explained the reason why there was no open tender.

"An open tender in this situation of a highly specialised new service and with only two qualified companies in Malaysia would have created a monopoly.

"This would have stifled competitiveness and robbed the opportunity for the state to pilot the service in a real-world setting and assess the performance of the service providers over a reasonable period of time," it said.

Asia Mobiliti said it was a pioneering DRT provider in Malaysia and the first to be licensed by the Land Public Transport Agency (LPTA) to operate a "bus-on-demand" service.

"As the pioneers of DRT in Malaysia with Trek Rides, we conducted a pilot of the service in September 2021 in Petaling Jaya for relevant stakeholders and clients," said the statement issued by the company's board of directors on Monday (May 27).

Asia Mobiliti added that it was the first company to be licensed as a DRT facilitator by LPTA following the successful pilot and the only company with a locally designed and developed system.

The company was founded in 2018 by the company's CEO Ramachandran Muniandy, the husband of Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, and Malaysiakini founder Premesh Chandran.

Questions have arisen over the company's appointment by direct negotiation and the involvement of Yeoh's husband, which appeared to be a conflict of interest.

Selangor executive councillor for investment, trade and mobility Ng Sze Han issued a statement on Friday saying that Selangor had awarded the contract to the company as it had the necessary credentials.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) also issued a statement on Monday voicing its concerns.

"Why was there no tender process? The practice of direct negotiations under the guise of technical requirements and the awarding of contracts to cronies in the name of meritocracy is nothing short of a return to cronyism the government had promised to eradicate," said TI-M.

It urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari to intervene in the awarding of the contract to Asia Mobility.

"We urge the state government to do a proper transparent tender process before it affects the people's perceptions of the government's commitment to reforms and anti-corruption," it said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki had said that there was no wrongdoing in the Selangor government awarding the contract to Mobiliti Asia.

Azam said this was because the company was appointed to do the job by the Selangor state government and not the Youth and Sports Ministry helmed by Yeoh.

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