KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — Ayer Hitam (BN) MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong claimed in Parliament today that Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub sought to award contracts worth RM1.4 billion directly to the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas).
During the Supply Bill debate, the MCA president alleged the contracts to be for rice-related subsidies and imports, adding that companies that had successfully tendered for similar jobs worth RM52.6 million have had their contracts cancelled.
“He had written a letter to the prime minister on November 7 during the Tanjung Piai by-election campaign to request the direct appointment of Nafas for the agricultural imports in the paddy sector for a three year period between 2020 to 2022,” Wee claimed.
According to the Opposition lawmaker, the ministry had called for an open tender on July 24 for the RM52.48 million worth of contracts over a three-year period and the companies that won the tenders have now been forced to enter into direct negotiations.
Wee then warned Salehuddin to consider his answer carefully, claiming there were many firms that would come forward to expose the issue.
Saying a report has been lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Wee asked if there was cronyism involved as members of Salahuddin’s Amanah party served in Nafas.
“Where is the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) now which is supposed to champion anti-corruption, integrity and transparency?” he asked.
Wee also told the Lower House that during the Tanjung Piai by-election campaign, hotel rooms were also booked under Nafas.
He went on to criticise the minister for asking Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to exempt some deals that could be construed as cronyism.
Wee’s claims prompted bipartisan calls from lawmakers such as Pendang MP (PAS) Awang Hashim and Pasir Gudang MP (PH) Hassan Abdul Karim for Salehuddin to give an explanation.
Later, Wee questioned PH’s integrity in governing the country, noting that the allegations he revealed today were a direct contradiction of the coalition’s claim of wanting to eliminate direct negotiations where possible.
“They keep saying they champion open tenders, but when Nafas did not get it, they use the backdoor channel,” he said.
Wee then asked if Dr Mahathir was misled or not given the full details in the issue.