Describing Pending rep as ‘ignorant’, minister says ART vehicles’ procurement ‘unlike buying cars or groceries’

Composite photo of Lee (left) and Yong.

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, Nov 27: Sarawak’s Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin has described Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong as ‘ignorant’ for questioning the State government’s procurement of the hydrogen-powered Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) system before completing the infrastructure works.

He said the procurement of the ART hydrogen vehicles is a complex process, unlike typical purchases such as purchasing a car or buying groceries at the supermarket.

The advance procurement strategy of the ART hydrogen vehicle, he said, is based on an international tender exercise, which followed the best practices to optimise costs and secure a stable supply of the ART hydrogen vehicles, which are specially designed for the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project.

“The manufacturing of these ART vehicles will be carried out progressively and delivered in stages, according to the project timeline, with the first batch expected in the third quarter of 2024.

“The expected scheduled delivery of ART vehicles will be about two units between one and two months per shipment, subject to shipment schedule, local final assembly, testing, and commissioning. Therefore, not all 38 units will be shipped at one time.

“It is imperative to award the ART hydrogen vehicles now to establish design integration with other ART systems and civil infrastructure related to the hydrogen vehicles. All this goes to show that the member of Pending (Yong) is ignorant when she questioned the award of the procurement of the rolling stock before completing the infrastructure works,” he said when presenting his ministerial winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

Lee further said that the procurement and overall tender and evaluation processes involve multiple stages which adhere strictly to transparent and integrity-driven governance.

“Therefore, tenderers are required to meet strict technical and financial prerequisites to progress to the subsequent commercial evaluation phase.

“Only those meeting these criteria will undergo an assessment of their commercial proposals, with the final selection based on commercial pricing,” he added.

On Nov 22, Yong claimed that many were puzzled about why the State government purchased the rolling stock before completing the infrastructure works.

She also demanded assurance from Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg that the cost to implement the hydrogen-powered ART project will not overrun. — DayakDaily