Authorities urged to investigate if PH direct contract awards were above board

Datuk Richard Wee

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Aug 25: Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president Datuk Richard Wee holds the view that the authorities must step in to investigate the 101 contracts awarded directly without open tender.

To Wee, awarding contracts without open tender is practised by governments when dealing with projects of a certain nature such as those considered urgent or requiring certain expertise.

“However, one cannot equate direct awarding of contracts as corruption,” Wee told DayakDaily.

For example, if there is a bridge that is swept away by flood waters, the government may want the bridge to be built as soon as possible or affected residents will continue to be cut off. In such a case, Wee believed that it is right for the government to award a direct contract to whoever that can build the bridge in the shortest period of time.

Apart from urgency, Wee pointed out expertise is another criterion which needed to be considered it comes to awarding direct contracts.

Thus, to him, one should not just jump to conclusion on the issue of the former Pakatan Harapan government awarding 101 contracts directly without open tender during the two-year period when PH was in power.

“What is important is, the authorities must investigate into the 101 projects. If these projects meet the criteria of direct award, then there is nothing wrong for the federal government during that time to give away projects without open tender.

“But if the guidelines and criteria do not exist and worse of all, guidelines and criteria are not followed and the contracts are awarded, then that calls for a full probe and investigation by the relevant authorities,” said Wee.

Parliamentarians yesterday crossed swords over the issue of direct awarding by the former PH federal government.

Members of Parliament from both sides exchanged heated arguments over contracts approved by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng who is Bagan MP without open tender.

The heated debate in Parliament started after Finance Minister Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz revealed that the former PH federal government had awarded 101 contracts worth RM6.61 billion through direct negotiations.

Amid the ruckus, Lim argued that the awarding of these contracts went through the Cabinet but former Economics Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali stood up and claimed that the issue was not raised at all in the Cabinet.

Tengku Zafrul said direct negotiations of contracts were allowed by the federal government with the approval of the Finance Ministry based on certain criteria.

He explained that some of the criteria included urgent need of goods procured, compatibility of the goods, goods supplied by a single manufacturer and contracts with Bumiputera companies which fulfil the eligiblility criteria. — DayakDaily