The Ministerial Comedy of Errors

The 2010 Auditor’s General report is testament to the blatant corruption and financial mismanagement of this government. Year on year it is getting worse and we are paying for it. Although BN is pleading with the people to trust in their experience, all signs point for us to do anything but. 

By Douglas Tan

Politics has always been a topic of conversation in your average coffee shop, and even more so after the 2008 General Elections. As of late, the centre of attention would definitely be on the part of government expenditure. We need not write more comedy material, as our Ministers invariably oblige by providing us gems when questioned inside and outside Parliament, by Members of Parliament and reporters alike.

I have compared our ministerial question-time to the play entitled “Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote of two brothers who were identical twins, and mistaken as one another by their friends. They went round and round in circles and no one quite knew what was going on, least of all themselves. In many ways, we can draw parallels to our Ministers who try taking us on a ride, but end up thoroughly befuddling themselves. I would like to draw on three examples to illustrate my point. 

Coal Power Plant

Let’s take the case of the coal-fire power plant contract which was awarded in June 2011 from the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water to Tanjung Bin Power, a subsidiary of Malakoff Bhd to commence operations in 2016. There was only one other company called for the closed tender, which was Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd.

When Tony Pua stood up and asked as to why there was no open tender, Peter Chin replied that it was because time is of the essence. So then because we needed it quickly, there was no need for an open and competitive quote? 

Let us look at the contract. What are the Power Purchase Agreement, and the expected tariffs which would be sold back to Tenaga Nasional? The Minister replies that the terms will be finalised at the end of the year although the agreement has been signed. So, the Minister reasons that political expediency justifies sacrificing of common sense? 


The Kuala Lumpur Mass Rapid Transit is the biggest project in our nation’s history at RM43 billion. Although the Prime Minister happily announced that the projects would be awarded by open tender, the project was immediately given to a Gamuda-MMC joint venture, both with are Government Linked Companies (GLCs). 

Najib was reported on the Malaysian Insider on October 26 to have said that the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) would practice public tenders. However, when confronted with the MRT tender by reporters, he said sheepishly, “There are some contracts that you just cannot tender out.” 

At this juncture, one would cue the sound of a collective slapping of foreheads across the nation. Our Prime Minister has blatantly contradicted himself without even giving a reason as to why. Will this project exceed the amount budgeted? You bet. Even Idris Jala himself was proud to say so. 

Defence spending

Tony Pua has clearly been busy doing his homework when he came across a Ministry of Defence requisition for AV8 Aviation Ground Support Vehicles (AGSVs), which are basically armoured people carriers. The contract size was RM7.55 billion for 257 units which translates to RM29.4 million per unit. Hardly petty cash. 

Who was awarded the supply contract? Deftech Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of DRB-Hicom. How many AGSVs has Deftech manufactured before the contract was awarded? Zero. Was there an open tender? No. 

The news then came out that Deftech proceeded to purchase RM1.7 billion worth of product from a Turkish company called FNSS Defence Systems. What did they purchase? AGSVs. How many units did they purchase? 257 units. Does this sound familiar to you?



Can the Minister explain the discrepancy between the RM7.55 billion price tag the rakyat is paying for and the RM1.7 billion purchase price? The Defence Minister, Zahid Hamidi made no attempt answered the question and proceeded to accuse the federal opposition for threatening the security of the country by trying to block necessary military purchases. I’ll let you make up your own minds. 

Read more at: