Bumiputeras to tender for the industry?

I am confused by these two headlines in the media yesterday:

‘Muscle for MACC’ – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was launched yesterday by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to create a new era of integrity- with more bite and muscle to fight corruption.

‘A better package’ – The second stimulus plan will be bigger to have impact, says Najib Abdul Razak. To speed up the implementation of projects, Najib said tenders would only be called for projects worth RM500,000 and above.

Previously, projects valued from RM200,000 and above would be required to undergo a tender. Now, only quotations would suffice for projects worth below RM500,000. This new move will benefit bumiputera contractors.

But when tenders are not required, the selection of contractors will be based on quotations and negotiations which will encourage corruption. To speed up spending, officers must have the absolute power to exercise their discretion in the selection of contractors.

I refer to Najib’s announcement during the Kuala Terengganu by-election when he said the government had already set aside RM900 million, which is RM300 million more than last year, for works to be undertaken by Class F contractors this year.

If this sum was not enough, the government was willing to consider additional allocations. But can all this money produce more efficient and competitive bumiputera contractors?

Our statistics show that Malaysia had one contractor for every 614 persons in 2005. Most likely, there are more contractors by now. This ratio is likely to be amongst the highest in the world.

Why should we waste so much of our taxpayers’ money?

I would like to pose a few questions. Out of the hundreds of high-rise buildings in Kuala Lumpur, does anyone know of one bumiputera contractor who has won any of these buildings’ contract through an open, competitive tender process?

Out of the hundreds of kilometers of highways in Malaysia, do you know of any bumiputera contractor who had won any part of the highway contract through an open tender?

Why was the Penang Second Bridge contract is awarded to a bumiputera contractor without an open competitive tender?

The obvious answer to the above questions proves that all of the government’s efforts in trying to produce reputable and competitive bumiputera contractors since our independence in 1957 have failed.

Unless the Government changes its methods and policies which have been proven unworkable, it will be a long time before we can see more good bumiputera contractors.

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