Penang open tender spree shows up Putrajaya

By Lee Wei Lian | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — The Penang government’s open tender spree in the past few months could put the federal government in a bad light as both strive to show the public that they stand for transparency and excellence.

While both have initiated efforts to make procurement more transparent to the public, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Penang government seems to have taken the lead with a stream of open tenders announcements for its big ticket items while the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government has appeared very slow off the mark.

Among landmark projects that were tendered out by the Penang state government include the multi-billion 100 acre Bayan Mutiara township project, the restoration of Fort Cornwallis, restoration of Crag Hotel, management of the Penang International Sports Arena and the Penang Hill facelift. Upcoming tenders include that for the Pulau Jerejak tourist development project.

In the case of the Bayan Mutiara project, the Penang government seems to have taken a leaf out of the Singapore playbook and has opened the tender to international bidders in an attempt to build an “iconic, prestigious and sustainable” development.

Singapore’s newest landmarks — the two world class integrated resorts (IR) at Sentosa Island and Marina Bay were built by international investors. A subsidiary of Malaysia’s own Genting Berhad had built the IR at Sentosa Island.

The federal government on the other hand has been slow to open up major projects to open tenders. The highly valuable 65 acre piece of government land in the prestigious Jalan Duta area was privatised last November to the Naza group without an open tender.

Other major parcels of land where open tenders have yet to be called for redevelopment include the 3,300 acre Malaysia Rubber Board land in Sungai Buloh and the redevelopment of the 400 acre Sungai Besi Airport and the development of the 85 acre KL Financial District. Other valuable tracts of land where no open tenders have been called include 204 acres of government land in Jalan Cochrane and land at Jalan Peel and Jalan Lidcol.

The open tender debate in Malaysia is a politically charged one as it is widely acknowledged that many if not most government contracts and licenses go to companies controlled by persons close to the political leadership. As companies are not selected based on merit, completed projects and public services are often of poor quality despite high costs and subject to much public complaint.

Both governments also maintain public procurement portals but Penang had launched its portal first. The federal government portal — MyProcurement — also suffered the embarrassment of having glaring data entry errors discovered just a few days after being launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

While Najib has taken steps to tidy up procurement and the New Economic Model (NEM) framework mooted by his administration has also stressed the need for open tenders, the slow pace at which such reforms are taking place under his administration are leaving many wondering if anything has really changed.

The danger for the prime minister than is that the island state will prove to be much more serious in terms of public accountability and performance and his government will suffer in comparison.

While some expressed fears that the Penang open tender system would penalise Bumiputeras, Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng quashed such claims and revealed in January that 70 per cent of tenders from two state owned firms were won by Bumiputera contractors.

He said that Malay contractors had won 16 out of 23 tender awards, or 70 per cent, from the Penang Development Corporation(PDC) and 44 out of 66 or 67 per cent of contracts issued by the Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang(PBAPP) in open tenders since March 2008.

Najib has had to contend with continued demand for quotas set aside for Malay contractors after he said the NEM will free the economy and make it more competitive.

Malay rights group point out that the BN government has yet to meet the 30 per cent target for Malay equity with just nearly 20 per cent since the New Economic Policy (NEP) came to effect in 1970.

But detractors say the amount does not include equity by government units and companies investing on behalf of the Malays and Bumiputeras such as PNB and others.

  1. #1 by grace on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 11:26 am

    Putrajaya is filled with half baked leaders who have run out of ideas. Their exhausted brains can no longer bring new ideas except beautiful slogans like 1Malaysia which rings hollow to the ears. As such they have no other options , but to copy from PR.
    In this case it is the open tender. Never mind if they are willing to copy, and it is good that they are willing to admit their limitations.
    Anyway, credit goes to PR government and should be congratulated.
    as the saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 11:48 am

    So who got the TUDM development contract?

  3. #3 by habis on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 12:43 pm

    How on earth do we expect the Corrupt BN Govt to implement Open Tenders in all govt projects when it simply means it will put to an end of $$$$$ to all their cronies and you know the ones involved.Open tenders Will never be implemented because it the hen that lays the golden eggs which enriches all the leeches in the BN.Direct Deals is the always the Practice of the this Corrupt BN govt simply because there is the OSA to protect these corrupt people.Why worry and Who Cares it is the foolish Rakyat”s $$$$$$who voted us in to milk the wealth of this country for the past 52 years.But Come 13GE that will put to an end of all the Rots in our beloved country and we can all enter an era of Good Goverance for the benefit of All irrespective of colour race or religion.

  4. #4 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 1:00 pm

    Lets hope what PR Penang is doing which is widely welcome and appreciated by the penang people in particular and majority of other malaysian in general would put to shame Umno/BN regime which bark only and no bite in respect of open,fair and transparency. But these guys are thick-skinned and shameless hence what do you expect from them ?

  5. #5 by monsterball on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Only an uncorrupted leader like Lim Guan Eng can produce fast results.
    When you are corrupted like UMNO B… they need to spend most of their time…how to please some and fool some….of his own race.
    It’s all about votes whatever UMNO is doing…before they make the “commission”…with no suspicions.
    But that is not possible now…and Najib’s slogans all nonsense….as even Mahatir is asking Najib to clear spell out what is “1Malaysia”.
    That old man will attack anyone to show his loyalty to his chosen cronies…and right now Ling Liong Sik arrest got him mad too…for it is heading towards the ring leader..guess who.
    Will Najib dare to act..since Mahathir is saying all his slogans are nonsense too?
    This shows…when you are day all will fight each other. Right now UMNO B running dog…MCA is performing a show with no audience to see.

  6. #6 by Winston on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 3:44 pm

    We all know who is the wheat and who’s the chaff.
    So, in the next GE, dump all the chaff!

  7. #7 by k1980 on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - 4:38 pm

    Dear mamak, you claim not to understand the meaning of jibby’s “1malaysia”.

    Well, 1malaysia = closed tenders

    Got that?

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