Mahathir should identify and discipline the Sabah leader who had misinformed and misled him into publicly praising Sabah as a role model to other states because of alleged smooth implementation of the construction of school computer laboratory projects in Sabah
- at the first meeting of the newly-elected Penang DAP State Committee
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): Tomorrow, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will be making another one-day visit to Sabah to open the 18th Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Congress at the Dewan Hongkod Koisaan in Penampang.
Exactly a month earlier, on 8th August 2003, Mahathir had made his previous one-day visit to Sabah to open the ninth United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Organisation (Upko) congress in Kota Kinabalu, which would be an unforgettable occasion not only for Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders, government servants and contractors but also for Barisan Nasional leaders, public servants and contractors in the rest of the country.
This was when he made a most startling statement at the press conference at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport at the end of his one-day visit, where he held up Sabah as a role model for the other states for efficient and trouble-free completion of government projects, even in the case of school computer laboratory projects which had shamed so many states in peninsular Malaysia with scandalous records.
Mahathir said contractors for the computer laboratory projects in the peninsula could learn a lesson from their counterparts in Sabah, as contractors in Sabah had completed the laboratories on schedule and according to specifications. There had been no complaints about quality.
He said: "As we all know, many computer laboratories in the peninsula were not properly built and had collapsed, but there is no such problem in Sabah. I think it would be good if the contractors in the peninsula could come to Sabah to see how government projects were succesfully implemented in the State." (New Straits Times 9.8.03)
Reporters were told that Sabah was allocated RM71 million for the construction of 200 computer laboratories, out of which 168 have been completed and handed to the State Education Department. The remaining 32 will be ready by the end of the month.
It was not just Malay contractors but UMNO leaders at all levels in Peninsular Malaysia who had to hold their heads in shame especially as the Prime Minister went on to say that the projects in Sabah had no problem with elected representatives or government officers as everybody was satisfied.
"I think it is good if contractors from Peninsular Malaysia come here and see -- see only, don't disturb -- how Sabah implements its development programmes.
"Schools are built properly, similarly hospitals and teachers' quarters. Everything is being done well by contractors in Sabah with the supervision of the state authorities."
I had said at the time that If Mahathir was right, then it was a not only an indictment on the Malay contractors and the UMNO leaders at all levels but also on the competence, dedication and professionalism of the Federal and State authorities in Peninsular Malaysia – with the blame going all the way up to the Federal Cabinet!
It would appear however that Mahathir had painted a false picture about the super-efficient implementation of government projects in Sabah, as it has been reported that Sabah contractors for school computer laboratory projects also had feet of clay like their counterparts in the peninsula, and the Prime Minister had been badly misinformed.
New Straits Times (4.9.03) under the headline “ACA: Computer lab structures defective in four Sabah schools” and datelined Kota Kinabalu reported:
Investigations carried out by the State Anti-Corruption Agency on four school computer labs showed that at least 50 per cent of the building structures were defective and not up to requirements.
An ACA source revealed that two schools in Tawau and one each in Keningau and Semporna showed signs of shoddy workmanship.
"Investigations are also being carried out on the size and measurement of the buildings as it is suspected to be built not up to the required scale," said the source.
"The ACA will seek the assistance of the Public Works Department which can provide the expertise in building and construction works."
It is also believed that the computer components were also not up to grade and did not meet the quality control requirements.
"The investigations were carried out recently and are ongoing," said the source, adding that the ACA would carry out their investigations in all parts of the State.
"The ACA will take action if it is discovered that the structure does not fulfil the requirements or does not abide by conditions set in the contract," said the source.
As Mahathir will be making his next one-day lightning visit to Sabah tomorrow, he should identify and discipline the Sabah leader or leaders who had misinformed and misled him into publicly praising Sabah as a role model to other states because of alleged smooth implementation of the construction of school computer laboratory projects in Sabah, bringing the office of the Prime Minister into ridicule and contempt and undermining his credibility, as there is nothing for contractors in Peninsular Malaysia to learn from their counterparts in Sabah as they are all equally culpable in shoddy and faulty implementation of government projects.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman