‘Contract contradicts PH principles’

PETALING JAYA: Awarding a contract through direct negotiation, especially to a relative of a minister, goes against everything the Pakatan Harapan administration has preached, says Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).Weighing in on the issue where the Selangor government awarded a Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT) contract to a company whose leadership has ties with Youth and Sport Minister Hannah Yeoh, TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said it is a potential conflict of interest that could lead to other more serious allegations.

“This puts unnecessary pressure on the minister and creates negative public perception,” Muhammad Mohan said when contacted.

He said if a company is technically sound and confident, an open, selected and transparent tender process should be held.

“If there is a need to share the contract with other companies and experts, the relevant portions can then be subcontracted to give them a chance to contribute towards the project,” he said.

Asia Mobility Technologies Sdn Bhd (Asia Mobiliti) was one of the two companies recently awarded the DRT contract by the state through direct negotiation.

Asia Mobiliti’s chief executive officer is Ramachandran Muniandy, Yeoh’s husband.

Muhammad Mohan said there was a potential conflict of interest as Yeoh is a federal minister and in the same political party as Transport Minister Anthony Loke. The DRT’s approving agency, the Land Public Transport Agency (Apad), falls under the Transport Ministry.

Loke is the DAP secretary-general while Yeoh is a senior party leader.

Muhammad Mohan also said he was surprised at why Selangor’s select committee for competency, accountability and transparency (Selcat) did not insist on at least having a selective tender process.

“Transparency should go above and beyond the minimum standards outlined in the law,” he said.

He also disagreed with Asia Mobiliti’s statement earlier yesterday, explaining that an open tender would create a monopoly.

“If a product or service is ‘highly specialised’ and only one provider in the world offers the said product or service, how would skipping an open tender result in a monopoly?” he questioned.

“If the specification of the procurement is clear and offered in an open, fair and transparent manner, and only a single company bids and wins fairly, it is up to the government to draw up a contract that benefits the people and the state.

“The shrouded cloak of the direct negotiations, however earnestly done, will always be mired in distrust and allegations of preferential treatment and monopoly,” he said.

Meanwhile, MCA youth secretary-general Saw Yee Fung said the Pakatan Harapan-led administration, in particular the DAP and Yeoh, need to explain the standards it has set for open tender and the requirements to win government projects.

“Is there one standard for its opponents and another for themselves?

“Does this mean promises made by the Pakatan regarding open tenders were mere lip service to hoodwink voters?” she said in a statement.

“The continued silence by Yeoh and Loke on the award of a public transport service project to Yeoh’s husband has contrasted sharply with the usual response from DAP.“Loke owes the public an explanation as to how Yeoh’s husband was chosen for the project despite no open tender,” she stated, citing DAP’s previous association with Pakatan’s so-called principles of competency, accountability and transparency.

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