KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has spun a web of lies about the RM6.61 billion worth of projects allegedly procured through direct negotiations, Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs said.
The PH MPs claimed that this was the reason why Tengku Zafrul seemed reluctant to reveal the full list of tenders that were made through direct awards.
“Most of the projects that were procured through direct negotiations were not PH initiatives, but were projects inherited from the former Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“The PH government then had instead lowered the cost for some of the projects (projects that were necessary).
“So instead of the RM6.61 billion, as claimed by the finance minister, it’s actually only RM352 million,” said DAP’s Bagan MP who was the finance minister during the former PH administration, citing this as the first lie told by Tengku Zafrul.
Lim cited an example of a project that was initiated by BN under the Transport Ministry worth RM4.48 billion, the Klang Valley Double Tracking (Phase II) project (KVDT2), that was approved through direct negotiations.
He said that under the PH administration then, they instead managed to lower the project cost and saved RM790 million.
“This is the most shocking (tender) and PH had initially decided the cost was too high and had cancelled the contract.
“But after the contractor (Dhaya Maju and LTAT (Armed Forces Fund Board) had appealed to the government (regarding the contract), the PH government then agreed to carry on with the project but at a much lower cost,” said Lim.
He also cited 31 more projects worth RM1.753 billion which were inherited from the BN administration.
“With regards to the RM29.9 million spent on enabling the World Cup ‘live’ telecast, one which was once criticised by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the choice of vendor was chosen by stakeholders in Zurich, Switzerland, so an open tender negotiation was not possible in that context,” Lim clarified.
He also explained that out of the RM352 million, some of the projects which were awarded through direct negotiations were applied for by the Housing and Local Government Ministry, which was formerly and currently helmed by Zuraida Kamaruddin, one of the PH defectors.
“The minister involved who was vocally denying the direct tenders should explain what were the projects which were procured through direct negotiations,” he said.
When asked to comment on Zuraida’s denial over the direct tender, Lim said it was best that she dealt with Tengku Zafrul himself as he is in the Cabinet and he disclosed the list.
Also dismissing Zuraida’s claims that her ministry had no part in direct tenders, PKR’s Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the former was likely “sleeping” during Cabinet meetings.
“When I was a minister (domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry) even I was aware of my ministry spending RM160 million for the ‘Buy Malaysian Products First’ campaign.
“How can she (Zuraida) not be aware of the RM170 million? She was definitely sleeping then,” said Saifuddin.
When asked about books that were purchased through a direct negotiation, under the Economic Affairs Ministry whose minister was Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Lim said he had trusted the wrong person.
“He (Azmin) was the minister, and even with renovations for his office, I trusted him then, and now I know that I have trusted the wrong person,” said Lim.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Finance released the full list of 101 projects that were awarded through direct negotiations under the PH administration, following calls to do so by the latter.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has confirmed earlier this week that it will be looking into the direct negotiation contracts for possible corruption, embezzlement or abuse of power after several NGOs had filed complaints with it.
Uproar over the direct negotiation contracts began in the Dewan Rakyat when Tengku Zafrul affirmed during his wind-up of the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Covid-19) 2020 that the PH administration had approved a certain number of government projects despite pushing for open tender contracts during its short-lived rule.
However, Tengku Zafrul also explained in Parliament that the approved projects had followed regulations that allowed for exemptions.
This caused PH MPs to demand Tengku Zafrul to release his list of the 101 projects to back his claim.
Other ministries that were listed included the Home Ministry amounting to RM517.7 million and Rural Development Ministry RM7.36 million.