KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Wanita DAP chief Teo Nie Ching today defended her party colleague Hannah Yeoh after the Selangor government was accused of nepotism in the award of a public transport contract to improve bus service in the state.

Teo said it is too early to demand the youth and sports minister step down as no one has shown concrete proof of a conflict of interest or power abuse as alleged.

“I think it would be unfair to ask Hannah Yeoh to resign and if the investigation proves there was an abuse of power then I believe that she will cooperate with the investigation properly and thoroughly.

“However, the question of whether she should resign, I think, is still premature,” she told reporters here.

Advertisement

Teo, who is also deputy communications minister, was asked to respond to former Penang deputy chief minister P. Ramasamy who pushed for Yeoh’s resignation from her ministerial position.

Puchong MP Yeo Bee Yin who was also present at the same press conference, said the contract in the Selangor pilot project involved the use of demand-responsive transit (DRT), a technology considered still new in Malaysia, and which aims to boost the efficiency of last-mile transport services.

She said to address the issue of many buses running empty during non-peak hours, the Selangor government started testing a demand-responsive transit system last year to see if it could reduce costs while keeping the same level of service.

Advertisement

She said only two companies in Malaysia are licensed for this service, and both were engaged for the trial project.

“This is not a long-term contract but rather a trial to determine if the on-demand bus service can indeed lower operational costs. If successful, the government can reduce its budget for free bus services and still provide efficient transport for the public.

“This pilot project allows the government to evaluate new concepts before making significant financial commitments. Therefore, engaging these two licensed companies was a sensible decision to see if the service could deliver on its promises,” said Yeo who is also from DAP. She stressed that the pilot project is currently in the proof of concept stage and the award of the contract has not been finalised.

Regarding concerns about potential influence or bias in selecting these companies, she said it is important to note that the decision was made to explore a cost-effective solution for public transportation.

“If these companies can prove their concept works, the government can then proceed with a formal tender process for long-term implementation,” Yeo said.

DRT is a relatively new technology that public transport advocates have touted to be a crucial solution to help users connect to major public transportation systems.

The system can provide flexibility to areas with lower ridership where fixed routes wouldn't be sustainable, filling in the gaps in traditional public transport especially for first-and-last-mile connections.

It is also efficient because it helps reduce wait times and optimise routes, making them potentially faster than traditional buses.

The Selangor government announced the appointment of Asia Mobiliti and the second DRT provider, Badan Bas Coach Sdn Bhd, at a public forum organised by the Selangor state government with Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam and Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated on June 15, 2023.

The Selangor Mobility brand logo and zone announcement at the Selangor Smart City and Digital Economy Convention was later revealed on October 20, 2023.

Yeoh is married to a co-founder of Asia Mobiliti and inadvertently found herself in the storm after DAP critics highlighted this link.