KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Seputeh MP Teresa Kok criticised today the government’s practice of political appointments when accusing new Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) chairman Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris of rushing a RM100 million project in his parliamentary constituency within a month of his appointment.
Kok, who is also a former primary Industries minister, further claimed that history was repeating itself as the previous MRB chairman, Jasin MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah, did the same by ordering an unnecessary RM44 million project in his constituency in 2010.
The project, she said, then turned out to be an unsalvageable white elephant and MRB was still paying millions of ringgit beyond the original cost for the incomplete project.
“Ahmad Nazlan was only appointed as MRB chairman about a month ago but appeared to have worked at warp speed to obtain the necessary approvals to spend RM100 million of public funds for a mega project in his parliamentary constituency.
“By using public funds for a mega project in his constituency, Ahmad Nazlan has shown why Malaysians are against unbridled political appointments for GLCs and other public entities,” she said in a statement today.
This comes after Ahmad Nazlan, who is also Jerantut Umno chief, announced that the MRB would be building a RM100 million ringgit Rubber Technology Centre (RTC) in Jerantut, Pahang.
Kok said there were similar examples of unwarranted and wasteful projects sanctioned by the previous Barisan Nasional government appointed boards years ago under the guise of so-called model rubber technology and processing schemes.
Such examples were the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia Mini Stations (Rriminis) and integrated processing complex (IPC) a few years ago in Kota Tinggi, Johor which had cost RM 130 over million in funding.
“Till date, they are still bleeding and leaking public funds and the biggest of the white elephants, the IPC in Kota Tinggi is still fraught with endless construction delays.
“These are clearly unnecessary and a wasteful project as they were still swallowing up public funds with incomplete constructions,” she said.
She then pointed out that Malaysia already has several full operational rubber technology and research centres in the country that were operating at optimal levels with no pressing need for a new centre given the present economic conditions.
“Instead, it will be better for Ahmad Nazlan to look into the need to upgrade the existing research facilities in Sungai Buloh and boost their manpower and expertise to advance new innovations,” she said.
She criticised Ahmad Nazlan’s decision as untimely since MRB failed to conduct any cost-benefit analysis with the justification provided not-of-sound socio-economic basis as the country was still grappling with the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
“Despite the economy moving into deep crisis and heading into recession, Ahmad Nazlan appears to have Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s ear in approving a non-essential multi-million-ringgit project in his constituency, when clearly the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s priorities should be elsewhere.
“As such, I strongly urge Muhyiddin to explain if he is aware about this mammoth RTC project which is to be built in the parliamentary constituency of the MRB chairman he endorsed,” she said, adding that this what what Malaysians feared when Muhyiddin ‘surrendered’ lucrative GLCs to MPs to consolidate his power.
She clarified the proposed project in Jerantut was an entirely new project under the PN government, further stating that she had ordered a moratorium during her stint as minister following reports of funds mismanagement by the previous BN government-appointed board.
“The previous Pakatan Harapan government through the Finance Ministry and Primary Industries Ministry have imposed much stricter procedures before any big projects are given approvals which will take more than a year at least.
“Clearly, all fiduciary and Finance Ministry procedures have been violated in this case,” she said.