Tuesday, 15th November 2011
Projects awarded in Sabah by Umno vice-president and federal minister Shafie Apdal cost '15 times higher' than their actual quote.
The opposition in Sabah armed with “evidence” is gunning for Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal following shocking disclosures of irregularities in rural development projects awarded through his ministry in Sabah.
Some 209 development projects have been identified for Sabah between 2011 and 2012 and the bulk of these projects involved the rural water and power supply projects covering various parts of Sabah, from Pulau Banggi to Sipitang.
Of the 209 rural development projects awarded, only 129 projects had been announced and of this, 49 totalling RM1,276.60 million were “ridiculously overpriced”.
Revealing the massive overpriced payouts, Kota Kinabalu MP Dr Hiew King Cheu said some projects were awarded at 15 times or 1,500% higher than the normal price.
He demanded that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) step in immediately and investigate these claims.
He said most of these projects are either invited tenders, negotiated tenders, or directly awarded.
“None of these projects was properly done through the Tender Board.
“Most of the companies awarded the projects are RM2 companies and some of the contractors involved are found to be closely linked to certain senior BN-Umno politicians from Sabah,” Hiew told a news conference here yesterday.
Evidence in hand
Hiew said that a careful study of the detailed tender documents provided by an insider had indicated that the lowest tender bid did not get the job.
In most cases, someone with a higher tender price of almost 1,500% than the lowest bidder gets the job.
He cited the “rural power supply project for the connection of power grid No.1” (for 2011–2012) which was awarded at a price of RM41,736,809.77.
The lowest tender price, he added, was only RM7,775,000.00 – a difference of RM33,961,809.77.
He also cited the case of the “hybrid solar power system” for the Semporna islands.
He said the project was awarded at a tender price of RM95,282,322.00, which many deemed to be too high.
“With that amount of money, I can always get someone to build a power station,” Hiew said.
He added that a similar project was also awarded to another company for a whopping sum of RM81,475,281.42 to supply power to Pulau Banggi, off Kudat.
Hiew also drew attention to the infamous Pualau Gaya, which he said was in dire need of clean water supply.
“They need clean water more than electricity. In fact, they already have a power station there.
“But they’ve awarded a contract for the installation of a 4-km-long undersea power cable to generate power supply for Pulau Gaya at the cost of RM42 million.
“A random survey conducted with several qualified local contractors revealed that this can be done at just RM5 million,” he said, adding that the government would need another RM100 milion if a water supply project was to be implemented.
To substantiate his claims, Hiew also distributed copies of the detailed tender documents containing the list of projects and names of contractors to reporters.
He said that he received copies of the documents of the Sabah projects from Beruas MP (Perak) Ngeh Koo Han.
Hiew noted that Ngeh had questioned Shafie about the contracts, during the Budget 2012 debate session in the Parliament last week, but the minister refused to answer him.
Describing the irregularities as blatant corruption by those in power, Hiew urged the MACC to immediately conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
“We call on the MACC to immediately conduct a thorough investigation as we cannot tolerate the manner the taxpayers’ money was being misused.
“We strongly believe there is a strong element of corrupt practice and abuse of power,” he said.
MACC will investigate
In a later development, the MACC said it was ready to probe into alleged irregularities with regards to rural development projects in Sabah.
MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohamed asserted it was MACC’s duty to investigate all corruption cases regardless of “who they were, without fear or favour”.
“It is our policy to investigate corruption when there is a complaint,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MACC and government-linked company (GLC) Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), at Wisma SESB, near here today.
Abu Kassim was commenting on Hiew’s expose of alleged irregularities in rural Sabah projects.
Questioned as to whether Sabah DAP had lodged an official complaint with MACC, Abu Kassim said the state MACC only had the media report to go on so far.
He said it was not an easy task to fight corruption, saying “last year alone, out of 944 cases reported throughout the country, 424 cases involved the offering or giving of bribes.”
“So far this year, we have already recorded 357 similar cases,” he added.