Dr M’s remark could make ministers think they can freely award contracts, warns MP

Justin Ong
Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement can lead to ministers thinking that they can award contracts as they like as long as it is in their area. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying ministers could directly award contracts related to their portfolio undermines Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) pledge to eradicate corruption, said Ramkarpal Singh.

The Bukit Gelugor MP said that even if such awards were legal, they were morally wrong as they would create the perception of favouritism from ministers who indulged.

Ramkarpal pointed out that the PH pledge to prioritise open tenders were possible was not only to encourage competitiveness, but also to weed out corruption by preventing any single person — even if he is a minister — from being authorised to solely award contracts.

“The PM’s statement can lead to ministers thinking that they can award contracts as they like as long as it is in their area (whatever that means).

“This is exactly what Harapan pledged to get rid of!” he said in a statement.

Ramkarpal then urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission not to be swayed by Dr Mahathir’s views, and to investigate any minister suspected of abusing their position to award contracts directly.

In September, Dr Mahathir announced that the federal government will impose new conditions restricting direct tenders to only exceptional cases and with the express approval of the Finance Ministry.

Yesterday, however, the prime minister said ministers were allowed to hand out contracts as long as they are within their respective jurisdictions.

Dr Mahathir was responding to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s remarks that he had raised concerns about this during a meeting with the prime minister.

In Parliament this week, MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong accused Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub of seeking to directly award RM1.4 billion in contracts.

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