Putrajaya sets new curbs to direct tenders, adds safeguards to special cases

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya September 19, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya September 19, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 19 ― The federal government will impose new conditions that will limit direct tenders to only exceptional cases, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced today.

The move builds on other anti-corruption measures the Pakatan Harapan administration has planned for the near future in its bid to rid the civil service of chronic corruption.

“For example, in the Armed Forces, they may identify a particular equipment and that may only come from one company,” the prime minister said when providing examples of exemptions during a press conference here after chairing the 10th Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR) here.

“But they must state why there is direct negotiation and they must first get approval from the Ministry of Finance.”

As of July, the government said only 15 per cent, or 17 initiatives out of the 115 initiatives outlined in the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) have been implemented.

Out of the 15, nine initiatives involve political governance, two for public sector administration, three for the legal and judicial sector, one for law enforcement and two for corporate governance.

Public procurement, where corruption was found to be most rampant, became the top concern that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition said it would fix upon seizing power.

However, Dr Mahathir admitted today that his government is far from achieving its goal.

“This meeting found that we still have not reduced corruption as much as we’d like,” he said.

“So we need to analyse where are the weaknesses in our prevention efforts so that we can improve our actions.”

Dr Mahathir said there is a need to build mechanisms to prevent the interference of elected officials in administrative matters, particularly in public procurement processes.

One of the ways to address this would be to issue a strict guideline that will limit the power of elected officials to make recommendations for project approvals, the prime minister said.

“We want to ensure the civil service is kept professional and make a clear demarcation between public officials and the administration so they may not interfere with administrative work,” he said.

This comes amid accusations that the PH administration was involved in a direct tender for a RM450 million federal government building in Tunjong, near Kota Baru, Kelantan.

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