MACC clears Guan Eng over hill railway repair
GEORGE TOWN (Feb 2, 2009) : Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been cleared of running afoul of the law after he directed state officers to select a contractor outside an open tender exercise because the offer was cheaper.
Lim revealed he was in danger of being charged with violating the Financial Procedure Act 1957 when he authorised an outside contractor to repair the Penang Hill funicular cable system.
“If you have a tender exercise, you have to comply with the lowest tender,” Lim said, explaining the Act.
“But despite the tender, all the prices quoted were too high,” he said.
“I felt it was important to save the government money. If another reliable outside party can offer even lower, we are willing to accept.”
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) state director Latifah Md Yatim who met Lim at his office today put the matter to rest, pointing out that the MACC Act 2008 allowed for such a move.
She explained that the MACC Act provided for such a decision if it was done “without malice” and in good faith for the state’s “monetary benefit”.
Lim had announced in December when reopening the cable system that the state received turnkey quotations of RM1.463 million, RM1.32 million and RM920,000 in the tender exercise.
However, through consultation with and assistance from the representatives of Penang Hill residents, NGOs, volunteers and professionals, the state reviewed the replacement proposal and awarded the contract to a local at a quotation of less than RM700,000.
The work was also done in two months instead of six as quoted by the other three contractors.
“Yes, I took a risk. You have to take risks if you want to save the government money,” Lim told reporters.
“My interest is to protect public money. We want to encourage people to offer the lowest with as high a quality,” he said.
The funicular service on the upper stretch of Penang Hill was stopped on June 25 last year due to protrusion of various wires from the cable. The cable supplier had advised a total stop to the service, and replacement of the cable became necessary when more wires protruded.
The state had to find its own resource to replace the cable as the federal government was not funding the cost of the repair on the basis that upgrading work of RM40 million had been approved.
Updated: 05:19PM Mon, 02 Feb 2009