Curbing the spreading cancer of corruption

comments     Koon Yew Yin     Published     Updated

COMMENT Recently we have seen in our newspapers a procession of corruption cases hauled up before the courts. These cases have mainly focused on the small fry or ikan bilis - 13 Selangor enforcement officers, a Kedah fire and rescue station chief, 12 Sarawak Immigration officers, etc.

However, there have also been two major cases. They are the Johor state exco member, his son and his special officer; and the suspects involved in the massive Sabah state water department case which resulted in the largest ever confiscation of over RM100 million in the country's corruption history by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Unless politics intervenes, the public is hoping that justice will also be done in the mother of all corruption scandals involving our 1MBD state fund. The 1MDB case has resulted in regulatory and criminal investigations around the world except in Malaysia where the mother of all cover-ups has seemingly been taking place.

Although the public may be suffering from an overdose of news on corruption, it is important for the country’s future that the limelight be maintained on these cases as well as on the actions needed to prevent similar cases from happening.

The two most recent cases show how deep the cancer of corruption is embedded in our country especially at the top levels.

Closed tender system the root cause of grand corruption

The first concerns the RM750 million so-called education hub in Besut, Trengganu which was begun more than 10 years ago and is still not completed. Graphic photographic evidence shows how unchecked corrupt and negligent practices have reduced this showpiece project to a shocking mess.

Today the vandalised buildings and facilities - and the tidak apa attitude of the state and federal authorities concerned - are a shameful reminder that even after some have taken their cut, Malaysian politicians and civil servants basically cannot be bothered to even take responsibility when projects are left broken and incomplete.

A similar instance may be taking place with new hospital projects which is costing the taxpayers billions of ringgit.

In the business news headlines this week is the announcement that a prominent construction company, a listed company, has secured a RM364.9 million contract from the government to design and build a hospital in the federal administrative capital.

According to the company chairperson, “This fourth hospital award is a testament of our growing reputation in the healthcare sector. We shall strive to deliver this project on time and within budget.”

But what has been happening behind closed doors and the closed tender process seems to provide a different picture.

In an earlier Parliamentary session, opposition lawmakers complained that the RM277.2 million cost for the Tanjung Karang Hospital project developed by the construction company represents a cost of RM1.85 million per bed, which is allegedly more than double that of PJ Healthcare Bhd’s KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital.

Responding to reporters queries on the matter, Dr S Subramaniam, the Health Minister, said he would provide an explanation when he has obtained necessary facts with regards to the projects.

There really is no need for a special investigation to analyse why these projects are so costly and ridden with potential for corrupt practices.

From my long experience as a contractor, all contractors love to negotiate to secure any contract. This enables many of them to easily bribe the officers. These bribes are a small fraction of the much higher contract price they can get at the end of the negotiation.

In fact, the MACC must look at the process of awarding the Tanjung Karang Hospital to the construction company which allegedly cost double the price of similar hospitals completed by KPJ.

MACC must also examine the bank accounts of all the senior officials and politicians (including their family members) involved in such contracts as well as uncover all their assets to ensure that they are really clean...

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