Letter: Awarding of LRT contract lacks transparency, mockery of open tender

By President of Transparency International Malaysia, Paul Low

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) views with grave concern the lack of transparency in the awarding of the Kelana Jaya light rail transit (LRT) extension contract.

News reports claim that the Ministry of Finance has ignored the recommendations of the LRT operator, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd.

The news reports have quoted political analysts and industry executives as saying that the “behind-the-scenes intrigue shows how opaque and non-transparent practices that have long characterised large public-sector contract awards remain the order of the day in Malaysia”.

Such reports raise questions on the federal government’s commitment to observe the principles of transparency and accountability at all times in the award of public sector projects.

TI-M has been continually providing recommendations to all relevant stakeholders on the need for open tenders as well as best procurement practices. The reasons and justification for choosing the winning bid is an important criteria.

This should include both the technical and financial justification.

The lack of transparency will undermine the confidence of investors as well as the rakyat in the award of large public sector projects. This is all the more important when the rakyat are the main stakeholders – as the customers (passengers) and the funders (their tax contributions).

The Deputy Prime Minister recently called for a vibrant, open and transparent business environment. These include encouraging open communication to promote accountability.

The Federal government must practice what it preaches. The open tender process should not be turned into a mockery.