How to secure a RM33m contract: No tender, ex-Mayor a ‘friend’ and PM’s note

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( – A businessman who is suing a newspaper and its journalist for (what he claims is) insinuating he secured a RM33 million contract with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) through questionable means, yesterday admitted that he obtained the contract without going through a tender process.

In fact, Datuk Abdul Halim Ali even admitted that he pulled strings to go over the head of the Mayor who refused to renew the contract, and had appealed to the prime minister to secure the three-year landscape and annual flowering plant deal in 2006.

Abdul Halim and first plaintiff, his company Brightmark Sdn Bhd, is suing the Sun Media Corporation Sdn Bhd and its former Deputy Editor (Investigative Reporting) Terence Fernandez for publishing articles regarding the contract in November 2009.

The offending articles were a news report titled “RM32m deal nipped” authored by Fernandez and articles that appeared in Fernandez’s column “MACC should follow the stink” and “Hazards of telling the truth”.

Fernandez is presently managing editor of

Brightmark is seeking RM10 million in damages and an additional RM1 million in exemplary damages, while Abdul Halim is seeking RM5 million in damages andRM500,000 in exemplary damages.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Nitin Nadkarni, Abdul Halim said he had sought the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s intervention for endorsement in 2006 when then Mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan declined to meet him or reply to his appeal to extend the contract.

“There was no response to my letter (from Ruslin) dated Jan 12, 2006,” Abdul Halim told the High Court here yesterday.

He said he then wrote a letter dated Jan 18, 2006 to Abdullah and met him.

“He (Abdullah) had minuted (recorded) his endorsement for my application in my letter addressed to Datuk Ruslin dated Jan 18, 2006,” he said.

Abdul Halim revealed that he had secured the contract in 1992, during the tenure of mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar.

When asked by Nitin who Elyas was, Abdul Halim responded that Elyas is his “friend” and currently an advisor to Brightmark.

He also revealed that Datuk Ahmad Lebai Sudin, the former Umno Pokok Sena division chief is chairman of Brightmark and is tasked with marketing and client services.