Alam Flora-gate - Pakatan has let down voters

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I refer to the Malaysiakini report Sivarasa: No harm making recommendations to Alam Flora .

Pakatan Rakyat made good governance, transparency and accountability a central part of their general election 2008 manifesto, and used these key issues very well to differentiate themselves from Barisan Nasional

As someone who voted for them in March 2008, I feel very sad and disappointed to see them apparently forsake these principles. Specifically:

1. The award of waste management contracts by Alam Flora in Selangor has been far from transparent and allegations of political patronage and a ‘spoils system' have been made. The lack of transparency surrounding these contracts has hampered public scrutiny and oversight.

2. A Pakatan Rakyat senior leader has publicly defended the practice of political party leaders recommending prospective contractors to the awarding authority.

Whatever the terms of the contract and wherever the final decision lies, each and every selection of contractors is a situation where corruption can potentially occur.

Therefore it must be done by the appropriate competent authority and must be done transparently, accountably and with the rakyat's interests foremost, without undue interference from any party.

Incumbent politicians and elected representatives favouring one contractor over another (and making it known to the awarding authority via their recommendations) is interference in the selection process and is the first baby step down the slippery slope towards political patronage, corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

3. Selangor's Pakatan Rakyat menteri besar seems to have dismissed these allegations of impropriety in an offhand manner, by asking for evidence instead of according them the due attention they deserve.

This is inconsistent with good governance and transparency, and uncannily resembles what Barisan Nasional leaders used to do in similar situations.

4. One year and three months after coming to power, Pakatan Rakyat's election promise of implementing ‘a fully transparent culture of openness in the awarding of government contracts and tenders, and granting awards based not on connections, but on competitiveness and track records' has not been fulfilled.

Although the credibility of the source of most of the allegations is not impeccable, and no evidence of wrongdoing has as yet been provided, prudence, the restoration of confidence in the Pakatan Rakyat leadership and the prevention of future malicious allegations of corruption require that these allegations be taken seriously and that good governance, transparency and accountability to the rakyat be implemented without delay.

Pakatan Rakyat should do the following:

1. Make public the details of all waste management contracts awarded during the tenure of the Pakatn government as well the last BN government. Include the details of successful vendors, their political affiliations and contributions (if any). How many contracts were awarded by BN and Pakatan respectively?

2. Make public the agreements, ‘understandings' and transactions between the Pakatan state and local authorities and Alam Flora regarding the awarding of waste management contracts, including the agreement terms and matrix of responsibilities & accountability.

How many percent of the contractors are chosen by Alam Flora and the state government respectively? Who does the choosing for the state government? Is it the politicians or the civil servants? Where does the buck stop?

3. Make public the entire procurement process for waste management services, including pre-qualification criteria and selection processes, as well as any and all attempts to unduly influence those processes by prospective contractors, civil servants, elected or appointed representatives and political leaders.

Disciplinary action must be taken against those proven guilty. If everything is above board, prove it and clear their names.

4. Fully implement good governance and transparency in all public procurement, as promised in their election manifestos. Pakatan would also do well to incorporate recommendations from Transparency International's handbook entitled ‘Curbing Corruption in Public Procurement'.

All this needs to be done speedily and verifiably.

Pakatan Rakyat needs to quickly get their act together and deliver on their election promises to the rakyat, or else they must step aside and allow others who are more committed and/or capable to do the job.

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