“Indefinite postponement” of double tracking rail project – triumph of clean, transparent and incorruptible governance or new development policy abandoning mega project with fresh focus on affordable world-class education, health and law-and-order systems
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi confirmed in Tokyo yesterday that the Cabinet will meet next week to make the final decision on the “indefinite postponement” of the controversial RM14.5 billion double tracking rail project.
Is the “indefinite postponement” of the country’s single largest privatized infrastructure project the triumph of clean, transparent and incorruptible governance or a new development policy abandoning mega projects with a fresh focus on affordable world-class education, health and law-and-order systems?
Malaysia is the 37th country to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in the three-day convention-signing ceremony in Merida, Mexico which has attracted 87 signatory countries in the first two days - with some 125 countries expected to be signatories.
It is unfortunate and most regrettable that Malaysia missed the opportunity to make an international impact as well as provide world leadership in clean, transparent and incorruptible governance by announcing the cancellation of the last-minute award of the double tracking rail contract to Malaysia Mining Corporation Bhd (MMC)-Gamuda JV on the ground that it violated Article 9 of the UN Convention Against Corruption.
Article 9 of the UN Convention on “Public procurement and management of public finances” stipulates that states should have “appropriate systems of procurement, based on transparency, competition and objective criteria in decision-making” to prevent corruption in invitations to tender and award of contracts in public projects.
However, Abdullah has avoided referring to corruption, clean and transparent governance in the proposed “indefinite postponement” of the double tracking rail project, which can only mean that the new Prime Minister lacks confidence of full support of the entire system of government and the ruling coalition if he embarked on an all-out war against corruption.
Is this why Abdullah has chosen to explain the “indefinite postponement” on other grounds, viz: to carry out other pressing socio-economic development projects under the Eighth Malaysia Plan and to reduce the national deficit and achieve a balanced budget.
Or has the change of course nothing to do with clean, transparent and incorruptible governance but marked a new development policy abandoning mega projects with a fresh focus on affordable quality education, health and law-and-order systems?
If the latter, it will invite many questions, such as:
Is the Cabinet next Wednesday prepared to send out a clear signal of a completely new re-look at all these mega-projects of privatization in keeping with a new focus of development priorities in the country?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman