KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s press secretary leapt to his defence today amid a brewing controversy over a RM808,629.48 contract awarded to Pemandu Associates Sdn Bhd earlier this year.
Press secretary Lim Chau Leng insisted that the seven-month contract awarded in January by the Transport Ministry then helmed by Liow was to Pemandu as a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, even though the government efficiency unit was officially disbanded in March 2017.
Lim disputed current Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s recent justification on cancelling the contract, saying Pemandu is not a public relations company.
“The company that Loke mentioned is no PR firm at all, but in fact, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (known as Pemandu).
“The Transport Ministry had commissioned Pemandu to conduct a public engagement programme to let people understand its work and progress,” he said in a statement.
Lim claimed that engaging Pemandu was a requirement for ministries and government agencies to report their key performance indicators and overall performance management.
Yesterday, Loke told reporters in Putrajaya that he was cancelling the contract awarded on January 24 to Pemandu for “ministerial communications programmes” as it was unnecessary and a waste of funds when the government is trying to cut cost to pay a whopping RM1 trillion debt pile.
Loke had during his press conference revealed one of the main responsibilities that was given to Pemandu was for it to produce weekly articles, said to improve Liow’s public image, to be published for The Star newspapers.
Lim then refuted these claims, saying articles in The Star were supposed to detail to the public the progress and latest developments of the Transport Ministry.
“This was in fact one of the initiatives under the public engagement programme, it was not the only initiative and certainly, not meant to promote Liow personally,” Lim claimed.
However, Malay Mail sighted an article with Liow’s byline on The Star’s website dated April 27 this year, on the eve of Nomination Day; titled “Vote wisely, Malaysians”, he exhorted Malaysians to vote for MCA and the Barisan Nasional in the May 9 general election.
Checks by Malay Mail also showed Pemandu, formed in 2009 to assist in the National Transformation Program (NTP), had transited out of the civil service.
In a statement dated January 23, 2017, Pemandu had said it was in the process of a two year transition programme, and would have handed over all most of their roles under the NTP to the civil service by March last year.