Press Statement: THE HARROWING STATE OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT DETRIMENTAL TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST

 

THE HARROWING STATE OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT DETRIMENTAL TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Press Statement dated 16th January 2020

 

The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center) thoroughly finds the recent drug-fuelled party in Puchong which involved public officials to secure large government contracts repulsive and abhorrent. We could only imagine how the tax money entrusted from the people is abused.

Pakatan Harapan came into helming the governance of Malaysia in 2018 riding on the ticket filled with 60 promises made, and one of it is Promise 23 – Ensure government procurement produced the best value for taxpayer’s money.

While on the one hand there appears a nudge for a more transparent and accountable public procurement system also espoused in  the 5 year National Anti-Corruption Plan, we are ill at ease to see in practice that its business as usual, and that contracts are still being awarded through lush and luxury temptations, making frail any such effort to keep the commitment stay afloat.

 

Contracts Attainment and Public Officials

The drug-fuelled party aimed to procure public contracts saw the arrest of all 17 attendees including the Selangor Bersatu Youth Chief and Dengkil assemblyperson, Adhif Syan Abdullah, an assistant to the prime minister’s political secretary and Kau Git Kaur, who was subsequently suspended from his post as the deputy president of the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF).

 

On November 25th, 2019, the Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman who is also the Youth Chief of Bersatu has vowed to resign from Cabinet if he is proven to have accepted a covert deal to award a tender for Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN). The minister had also previously asked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for one of their officers to be based within the ministry. Was that merely done as lip service?

Unfortunately, Syed Saddiq has not provided the much-needed accountability required of a leader in redeeming himself and the ministry.

 

Procurement Commitments: Promise 23 and NACP Strategy 3

In Malaysia, the government spends more than RM150 billion in procuring goods, works, and services every year. This is equivalent to almost one-fifth of Malaysia’s nominal GDP. Former Auditor General, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang criticised that public procurement as “one of the government activities [that is] most vulnerable to corruption and it is a complex problem which covers a wide range of illegal activities.”

 

In line with the promise given by Pakatan Harapan, the reformation of the public procurement system and the way contracts are awarded is highly anticipated by the people whereby only open tenders will be considered.

The covert drug-fuelled party is a terrible expose of the dark and complex world of the procurement system practiced by the Barisan Nasional, where criminal activity is commonplace in the bid to secure cushy deals, making politicians and political parties very vulnerable to corruption. It has never been about merit and clean competition, and this is where PH must commit thoroughly to clean up the system, lest become another Barisan National.

 

The NACP must be taken seriously, and work must begin conscientiously. It was supposed to be used to do away with political influences in the process and online information about the contract is supposed to be made readily available for check and balance. In the NACP, a comprehensive procurement policy on making the conflict of interest in procurement process available is promised to safeguard public interests and the interests of contracting parties. However, in attendance of the drug-fuelled party the errant public officials have not just demonstrated gross misconduct, this also highlights the lack of open and fair competition and fair dealings in the public procurement process.

 

C4 has been monitoring Janji Pakatan and the National Anti-Corruption Plan (https://janjipakatan.org/)

 

Recommendations:

  1. C4 demands Minister Syed Saddiq to be fully accountable and transparent with the next steps in incriminating such actions by listing out all the names of the offenders to the public, clear statement on how such covert deals transpired and the further action plans on part of the ministry. If he cannot do so, he himself must do the accountable thing and resign.
  2. C4 emphasizes on the need to have a solid and comprehensive Procurement Law to ensure that the public interests are placed above the rest. What happened to LGE’s promise at budget speech 2019 on strengthening fiscal administration by tabling the Procurement Act?
  3. C4 urges the government to bolster the Whistle blower Act and Protection of Witness Act in order to protect the identity of witnesses and those who exposes wrongdoings in public and private sectors.

 

 

Released by:
Cynthia Gabriel (Ms.)
Executive Director, C4 Center