MMC-Gamuda good choice for MRT tunnelling

SHAH ALAM (Dec 16): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has lent weight to MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd as the appropriate candidate to undertake the RM7 billion tunnelling job for the proposed Klang Valley mass rapid transit (MRT) project.

Mahathir explained that the consortium, in which MMC Corp Bhd and Gamuda Bhd hold 50% equity interest each, has the track record in tunnelling jobs.

"They are the only [local company] with the experience. MMC-Gamuda should be a good choice," Mahathir told reporters after opening the MMC-Gamuda Tunnelling Training Academy on Thursday.

Tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary is the single largest shareholder in MMC with a 52% equity stake.

Being the project delivery partner, MMC-Gamuda is already granted the right to match the lowest rival offer for the tunnelling job under the Swiss challenge system. This gives the consortium an edge over other bidders for the tunnelling works.

The MMC-Gamuda track record includes the team's 9.7km Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel that cost RM1.93 billion.

Gamuda managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling said the consortium "will do its best" to secure the MRT tunnelling project. Lin said the government is expected to announce the winning bidder for the tunnelling job by May next year.

In its statement, Gamuda outlined compelling reasons why a local contractor should undertake the tunnelling job. These include job opportunities for locals and the usage of domestically sourced materials to undertake the job.

The MMC-Gamuda consortium was the only Malaysian entity shortlisted for the RM7 billion MRT tunnelling project. Its global rivals include South Korea's SK Holdings, two bidders from China and one from Japan. One of the Chinese bidders is China's Sinohydro Group Ltd.

It was reported that these companies had three months to submit their tenders for the project.

This is the second business entity linked to Syed Mokhtar that the former prime minister has said should be granted its wish.

Over the past weekend, Mahathir, the adviser to Proton, remarked that DRB-Hicom Bhd, which is also controlled by Syed Mokhtar, is deemed the "preferred candidate" to take over the 42.7% stake in Proton held by Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Mahathir said the national carmaker should remain as a national entity as this will entitle the firm to government support.

While technology transfers are crucial for the survival of Proton, Mahathir said it is not appropriate for the company, to divest a strategic stake in a state-owned asset to foreign partners in order to have access to overseas technology.

"Proton can have access to automotive technology from smaller entities," said Mahathir.

Apart from DRB-Hicom, Naza Group and UMW Holdings Bhd are said to be keen on buying Khazanah's stake in Proton.

Mahathir said it is an open bid and it is up to Khazanah to decide who it wants to dispose of its equity stake to.

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