KUALA LUMPUR (April 3): The government has not issued any instruction to open up “bumiputera-only” contracts to all races despite opting for open tenders and less bureaucracy in the procurement process, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng reiterated.

Guan Eng said claims that the government had sacrificed bumiputera interests are to incite hatred towards the administration and also himself. 

“For government contracts, we use the old methods, but the difference is they must be awarded via an open tender to get the best contractor and pricing favouring the government.

“If there is any other document [stating otherwise], I would like to see who gave such orders,” he added.

Guan Eng was responding to opposition lawmaker Ahmad Marzuk Shaary’s (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) claim that bumiputera contractors are being sidelined, with contracts in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur meant for bumiputeras only as recently as 2018, are purportedly being renewed as open-for-all projects this year.

“Based on the status [of the government procurement], it was previously offered to bumiputera [contractors]. Now it is open [for all],” Ahmad Marzuk alleged in the Dewan Rakyat during the finance minister’s winding-up session on the 2018 supplementary budget bill. 

The minister, however, declined Ahmad Marzuk’s request to read out the procurement document from his mobile phone. Instead, he asked the lawmaker to file a written question, prompting protests from opposition members of parliament (MPs). 

Later, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker instructed Ahmad Marzuk to leave the hall after he interrupted Guan Eng numerous times, uttering unparliamentary words. Following this, several other MPs left as well.

Since November last year, Guan Eng had said numerous times the new procurement process would not sideline bumiputera contractors. 

Unlike previously, contractors are no longer required to obtain the signatures of political party division heads in the constituencies where the contractors operate, reducing bureaucracy and the possibility of corruption in the procurement process.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 3, 2019.

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