RM2b project approved for direct tender
right before Parliament dissolved...
PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli has produced a letter that purportedly shows the RM2 billion flood mitigation project in Sungai Langat 2 was approved by the government for direct tender to a specific company on Oct 7, one working day before Parliament was dissolved.
This is the latest revelation in his series of exposes accusing the caretaker government of trying to bulldoze contracts worth billions of ringgit for cronies. He had been focusing on flood mitigation projects involving the Environment and Water Ministry under the outgoing minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
In particular, the letter he revealed today was supposedly sent by Treasury secretary-general Asri Hamidon to the Environment and Water Ministry’s secretary-general Zaini Ujang, dated Oct 7.
In the letter, it states that the finance minister has agreed to approve the Sungai Langat 2 flood mitigation project to be awarded via direct negotiation to a company that Rafizi (above) described as an “Umno crony” firm.
“This letter from the Finance Ministry was issued on Oct 7, which is on the day the previous budget was tabled (in Parliament). Logically, the focus of the entire government, the finance minister, and the ministry on that day should be the tabling of the budget.
“Instead, this letter was issued on that same date even as the ministers already knew Parliament would be dissolved on Monday, Oct 10.
“That’s why I said a project as big as this was being bulldozed so that its approval can be given before the 15th general election (GE15),” Rafizi said in a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.
He also said he was given a copy of this letter by disgruntled government officers who cannot stand such practices by the minister.
A done deal
Rafizi said as far as the government and Tuan Ibrahim’s ministry are concerned, the commitment to enter into direct negotiation with the company over the RM2 billion flood mitigation project was made the day before Parliament was dissolved.
Describing the situation as fait accompli (something that has already happened), Rafizi said informing the Environment and Water Ministry’s secretary-general of the decision was just a procedure.
“After that, if the ministry, for example, wants to issue a letter of award, they can skirt around this provision and say the commitment was actually done before Parliament was dissolved,” he said.
Previously, there was a Treasury circular on Oct 18 saying the caretaker government must avoid entering into contractual commitments or undertakings that would have financial implications for the next government.
The same circular, however, states that the government can continue with existing policies and development projects or enter contracts in matters where the financial allocations have been approved by Parliament and the government before it went into caretaker mode.
Tuan Ibrahim may try to deflect responsibility by saying his name was not mentioned in the letter at all, so he did not know about the project, said Rafizi. However, he said, when such a big decision is made involving the Environment and Water Ministry, surely the ministry’s secretary-general would have briefed Tuan Ibrahim as the minister.
“That’s why I am disappointed with Tuan Ibrahim and the PAS leadership, who are trying to portray that they did not know anything.
“For now, I hope Tuan Ibrahim does not hide behind a letter of demand to wash his hands off his responsibility for this project,” Rafizi said.
Lawyers acting on Tuan Ibrahim’s behalf had yesterday sent a letter of demand to Rafizi, accusing the latter of defaming the minister over allegations that his ministry is attempting to bulldoze contracts worth billions of ringgit in violation of Treasury rules for caretaker governments.
Rafizi today said he hopes Tuan Ibrahim will go through with his intention to sue him over this matter as he “wants this to go to court”. He also quipped that he has received many letters of demand over the years and only about half ever materialise into lawsuits against him.
Tuan Ibrahim had also earlier asked Rafizi to lodge a report to the MACC over this issue if he has evidence of the caretaker government inappropriately awarding tenders. However, Rafizi dismissed this, saying he has been lodging MACC reports all his life without any results from the agency.
At today’s press conference, Rafizi said he would lodge reports to the relevant authorities over this matter if Pakatan Harapan were to form the government after GE15.
“Even though Tuan Ibrahim previously challenged me to make an MACC report, I hope he will be patient because for sure an MACC report will be made if Pakatan Harapan forms the federal government shortly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rafizi said he will focus his attention on outgoing finance minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s involvement in approving these projects for direct negotiations in a future press conference. - mk
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