Tee Keat slams Soi Lek for mocking audit report, ignoring mismanagement

(The Malaysian Insider) – Former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat attacked his successor Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today for “mocking” the Auditor-General’s Report by claiming that negative reports would not affect Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support in the next general election.

Taking to microblogging service Twitter to attack his political foe, Ong said: “Why must Auditor’s report b mocked as cloutless in affecting GE outcome?

“50 yrs ago it might hv no impact doesn’t mean it’s d same now.”

Yesterday, Dr Chua sought to play down the Auditor-General’s Report released this week, saying the BN government would fall every year were the report to have any effect.

The MCA president said Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would certainly exploit reports of mismanagement, but argued that the BN federal government would not be judged solely on the issue of poor management.

Ong, however, had a different take on the issue

“Wasteful public spending w/ dishonest mark-up & w/out maintenance must b addressed with severe punishment b4 recurrence can b curbed,” he said without naming Dr Chua.

The annual Auditor-General’s Report has revealed several projects that were directly negotiated, plagued with issues, and may affect the level of trust in government, analysts have said.

The most glaring example was the directly-negotiated RM12.49 billion Ipoh-Padang Besar double-tracking project that was delayed twice and has incurred an additional RM3.6 billion in costs.

Other examples include 1,000 brochure racks worth RM1.95 million for Visit Malaysia Year 2007 bought through direct negotiation by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board without the Finance Ministry’s approval, resulting in a probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the five billboards worth RM3.64 million that it put up in Indonesia via direct negotiation that are also being investigated by anti-graft officials.

Military family quarters built by the Defence Ministry saw costs nearly double to RM3.2 billion amid a litany of defects including collapsed ceilings and leaking sewer pipes, according to revelations in the Auditor-General’s Report 2011.

Among others, the report found that the majority of the military quarters projects audited were awarded by direct negotiation and that the government waived penalties worth RM87.12 million for failure to meet contractual obligations.

Transparency-International Malaysia president Datuk Paul Low said the direct negotiation way of awarding contracts could potentially give rise to problems such as corruption and lack of competition.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has pledged his commitment to open tenders, saying at the launch of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in 2010 that competitive tenders for big projects would be the “default” option.

Despite efforts to boost transparency including making corruption one of the National Key Result Areas in the Government Transformation Programme, Malaysia slipped four spots to 60th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index last year.