Computer Laboratory Scandal:
Government must carry out a thorough investigation
by Kerk Kim Hock
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Works Minister Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said yesterday that a total of 574 computer laboratories in primary and secondary schools in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang were unsafe and in dangerous condition.
He said they were computer laboratories built under phase One of the computerisation of primary and secondary schools (eastern zone).
Samy Vellu said that of the 600 schools inspected by the Public Works Department, 487 computer laboratories were found to be unsafe and 87 in dangerous condition.
Samy Vellu’s revelation was certainly shocking, especially so after the Deputy Education Minister Dato Aziz Samsuddin has also recently revealed that under Phase One of the project, a total of 2135 labs were supposed to be built, but as of July 15 this year, only 1449 are fully operational.
This is a scandal which requires a thorough investigation and stern action by the Cabinet.
Although the ACA director Datuk Zulkifli Mat Noor has said that the ACA has started investigation into the project, I call on the Cabinet to carry out a thorough investigation which is not confined to just any individual’s acts of corruption or abuse of powers, but also the following aspects:
On 8.7.2003, I have gone to the Prime Minister s’ office and handed to him, through his first political Secretary Datuk Johari Baharum, two sets of documents that contained allegations against the abuse of powers by a top official of the Treasury.
Among the allegations contained in the documents was that that the contractors appointed to build the school laboratories project faced limited revolving capital and they were awarded contract values which were too high.
It was also alleged that the contractors appointed were not registered with the Construction Industry Development Board and Pusat Khidmat Kontraktor and that they should not have been awarded contracts to build schools thorough the Design and Build concept.
A question raised in the document was the valid ground of appointing some project management consultants by the Finance Ministry the government must therefore also investigate as to whether the project management consultants appointed for the above projects were given contracts which have exceeded their capability, especially so after the Works Minister ‘s revelations can only point towards two things:
Among the allegations made in the documents said that the practice of appointment of project management consultants by the Finance Ministry have caused the Public Works Departments professionals to become idle.
It was also alleged that the implementation of the Design and Build concept has caused the cost per classroom to shoot up almost twice the cost when compared to projects built in the conventional way.
According to the documents sent to the Prime Minister, six contractors were awarded contracts to build more than 2000 school labs, details a follows:
Deputy Education Minister Dato Aziz Samsuddin has yesterday revealed that Telekom Smart School had turned down the offer and the contract was handed to 156 Class F contractors while for the South Zone, the contract of CS Technology Sdn Bhd was terminated on June 28 last ear and given to 38 contractors.
The entire Phase One project was scheduled to complete on May 14, 2001 and it is July 17, 2003 today and yet only 1449 are operational. The Cabinet has no choice but to take the sternest action, besides allowing the ACA to launch an investigation into any alleged irregularities.
* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka