Guan Eng explains why he approved a direct-nego project for Tamrin Ghafar

(FMT) – Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has reiterated that he did not initiate direct negotiations for a solid waste transfer station project during his tenure, saying the process started with a request from the housing and local government ministry.

This comes after reports that businessman Tamrin Ghafar would be filing a defamation suit against Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin over her comments on the matter.

Previously, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz listed the aforementioned project as among those awarded through direct negotiations by the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led administration. The project was awarded to Bumi Segar Indah. Tamrin is an adviser to the company.

Tamrin’s company, Bumi Segar Indah, got the project

Zuraida had said she had no knowledge of the project and placed the blame on Lim, saying he had agreed to reduce the project cost by 10% and advised the company to approach the housing and local government ministry to formally make a proposal for it.

In a statement today, Lim said the project was first awarded through direct negotiations under the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration in 2017.

“I was not involved as finance minister in discussions or direct negotiations for this project, be it with the company or Tamrin as this project was under the housing and local government ministry.”

Lim said Zuraida’s ministry had first applied to the finance ministry to reappoint Bumi Segar Indah after the Cabinet, which Zuraida was a part of, decided as a policy that all directly negotiated projects awarded in the BN era would continue subject to a 10% reduction in costs.

“A copy of this letter (from Zuraida’s ministry) exists and it is impossible for Zuraida not to have known about it,” he said.

Lim added that if he had instructed for the project to be awarded through direct negotiations, then Zuraida would surely have already revealed such a letter.

He accused Zuraida of playing politics by linking the Cabinet’s decision on the reduction in costs for directly negotiated projects as evidence that he personally allowed the project to proceed.

“Though the Cabinet decided on a 10% reduction in costs for directly negotiated projects awarded in the BN era, it is somehow ‘all Lim Guan Eng’s fault’,” he said.