KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Prasarana Malaysia Bhd president and group executive (PGCE) Muhammad Nizam Alias was told to go on leave due to allegations of misconduct and insubordination, said Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.
The Prasarana chairman said, however, that this was the normal course of action in such situations.
"The board has already issued a show-cause letter to the PGCE and he has been given a week to reply to the show-cause letter.
"To be fair to him and to follow the internal policies, the board of directors has set up a special committee to scrutinise his replies," he said.
On December 8, news reports revealed that Muhammad Nizam was suspended but the national transport operator had not offered an explanation at the time.
"The committee has just been set up, he has been suspended from all his duties. He is even being paid while the investigation is ongoing," Tajuddin added.
However, Tajuddin said he was disappointed that the internal matter has since gone public.
"I would expect for him to be professional and to answer in a letter to reply to the show-cause letter (but) I suspect he has gone to the media, to attack Prasarana, to attack me, I think that’s not so professional.
"I was avoiding answering all these, I don’t think it’s professional to wash dirty linen in public because no one will benefit from it," he added.
When asked if the allegations that Muhammad Nizam was suspended due to suggestions he made to the board of directors were true, Tajuddin sought to sidestep this by asking for specifics.
"It’s not true at all. What suggestion? Specifically, which suggestion?
"Give him a chance to reply, we’ll let you know when the time is right as it will lead to prejudice if we tell the public now because our public is very fond of making public judgement," he added.
On the delayed payment to 17 contractors and consulting firms involved in the LRT3 project, Tajuddin said the matter should be brought to the turnkey contractor — MRCB-George Kent — instead.
"They (sub-contractors) are not our contractors. If (they) have problems, they should go to MRCB-George Kent, it’s not our problem.
"I have been listening to the complaints, and as project owner we too want to follow through with the project to ensure that it runs smoothly," he said.
Previously, it was reported the 17 contractors had sought for the government’s help as they are owed more than RM700 million for work done since July.
It was reported that this amount is expected to pass RM1 billion this month.
Tajuddin insisted that MRCB-George Kent should be able to advance the needed capital to proceed with the project rather than, as he alleged, direct the subcontractors to complain publicly.
"If we say more, I don’t want to tarnish our contractor company’s image, but now the game is played in such a way as though we are the unfair ones," he said.
Tajuddin also clarified that Prasarana has up to October 2020 paid RM3.468 billion to the MRCB-George Kent.
"This is not a small sum, but it cannot be that each time they make a claim, we have to pay them.
"Pakatan Harapan (PH) didn’t pay for a year, this is only a few months. So to say that we didn’t pay, it’s unfair," he said.
However, he conceded that Prasarana did not have sufficient funds to pay the RM700 million being claimed by the sub-contractors.
"We don’t have much revenue, we don’t even have enough to pay our capital expenditure.
"We are depending on the government (for bonds), not every month we can raise bonds.
"We are also dependent on the government for equity injection, so we have to manage our financials well because if we pay off everything, what’s left?" he explained.
When asked if Prasarana has plans to pay the RM700 million once the company has received funds, Tajuddin said it will only be able to pay RM300 million.
"We have to look at our cashflow. We cannot afford to have deficit problems with our cashflow.
"If our cashflow improve after we get the injection and money from sukuk, and when everything else is okay, then we will pay.
"But as long as there are other problems, then we won’t be able to pay all," he said.
On the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) "visit" earlier today, deputy chief communications and marketing officer Rafizah Amran clarified that it was not a raid but a fact-finding mission due to recent negative reports that have surfaced.
"Whether they will continue (their probe), we are not sure, but we will cooperate with MACC," said Rafizah.
She also clarified that nothing was confiscated except MACC requesting to sight some document and to bring back the documents for further reading.
"We hope that MACC will clear our name," she said.