The PMC scandal running into tens of billions of ringgit, and the conflicting and confusing statements emanating  from Ministers and top civil servants, are shocking proof  that the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” disease has afflicted and paralysed the highest levels of  government leadership reaching into the Cabinet

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Project Management Consultant (PMC) scandal, running into tens of billions of ringgit, and the conflicting and confusing statements emanating from Ministers and top civil servants,  are shocking proof that the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” disease has afflicted and paralysed the highest levels of government leadership reaching into the Cabinet. 

On Friday, Bernama reported Public Works Department (PWD) director-general, Tan Sri Zaini Omar, as welcoming the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday that all government projects will now be under PWD supervision.


Abdullah had also said that the fate of the Finance Ministry-appointed Project Management Consultant (PMC), which has been blamed for the delays and poor workmanship of government projects, would be decided soon.


Zaini said: “At one time, when the PMC was appointed, there was no reference to us at all.  They did not have to comply with the standards and costs set by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Department.


“Now that the projects are coming back to us for implementation as required by the technical instructions, we have to follow the standards and costs.”


However, this picture of a new directive to restore to PWD the responsibility to supervise all development projects has been contradicted by the Minister for Energy, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik who said that PMC services had been terminated since the end of last year.


Adding to the confusion is the statement by the Chairman of the Protem Committee for Bumiputra PMC Association  (BPMC), Dr. Rosli Nekmat  that the government had discontinued all  PMC services since the circular by the then Treasury Secretary-General, Tan Sri Samsudin Hitam (now retired) on March 20 this year issuing a directive entrusting the responsibility of the development projects to the  respective technical units of the relevant government departments.  (Sin Chew) 


Are the PMCs for government development projects still operating, and if not, when were their services fully terminated, and why did the Prime Minister say on Monday that the fate of PMCs will depend on a full report from the Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu and that he did not have details on the number of projects that PMC is developing?


Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu must present a White Paper or a Ministerial Statement in Parliament tomorrow  to throw full and proper light on the long list of failed government development projects running into billions and tens of billions of ringgit.


Samy Vellu has claimed  that the Works Ministry and the Public Works Department are completely innocent parties which should not bear any responsibility or blame for  the long list of failed government infrastructure construction projects.


I had always maintained that in the long list of failed government infrastructure constructions, involving government buildings like the MATRADE Building, highways, schools or hospitals, Samy Vellu should not be the only Minister to be held  solely responsible, as full accountability might require more than one Cabinet Minister to resign.


My position has now been vindicated by Samy Vellu, who has gone public to put all the blame on the PMC and the Finance Ministry.


Surely, the whole Cabinet must also bear full collective responsibility. Keng Yaik said yesterday that “There seems to be something wrong somewhere and even Works Minister Datuk Seri Samy Vellu does not know very much about PMC projects, carried out through the Finance Ministry”!  I say something is indeed very wrong when the whole Cabinet seems to be ignorant about the long list of government infrastructure development failures running into tens of billions of ringgit!


I agree with Keng Yaik that Malaysians should not be short-changed by PMC or any Ministry,  but it is also pertinent and important that Malaysian taxpayers should not be short-changed by the Cabinet.


However, I do not think Samy Vellu can fully disclaim responsibility for the long list of failed government infrastructure construction projects, and I would advise him not to mislead Parliament, people and nation into believing that the RM400 million MATRADE Building scandal, for instance,  is one of the PMC disasters as no PMC had been involved in the project right from the beginning.


There is in fact a lot of confusion and ignorance about PMC – what and who is the PMC, as many are under the impression that PMC is one consultant firm with only a handful of people registered with the Finance Ministry.


There are in fact more than one hundred PMCs in the country.  The then Ketua Setiausaha Perbendaharran, Tan Sri Samsudin Hitam, had issued a list of  82 PMCs registered with the Finance Ministry  to all Ministry secretaries-general in a circular dated 7th June 2002.


Project management began to be introduced in 1990 after the experience with two world-class projects, namely the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL International Airport.  Since  1999, there were an estimated 130 private companies of various sizes and track records registered under the Treasury that offer Project Management Consultancy (PMC) services.


In 2002 and 2003, the value of projects implemented by the Government was about RM23.5 billion each, with the PWD handling RM7 billion worth, or 30 per cent of the projects, while the balance of RM16.5 billion were given out to PMCs.  This means some RM33 billion development projects were channeled to PMCs just for the two years 2002-2003.  From this amount, only 30% of the projects managed by the PMCs were completed within schedule.


This would mean that since 1990, development projects worth several  tens of billions of ringgit, even nearing RM100 billion,  would have been entrusted to the PMCs, which calls for full and proper accounting, as the purpose of having PMCs – efficient delivery on time, within the budget and of the specified quality – have not been met.  Even worse, as exposed by Samy Vellu, PMC projects had been more costly than PWD estimates, double or even more times!


The question is why the tens of  billions of ringgit PMC scandal had been allowed to fester for so long without proper check.  Tan Sri Ramli Ngah, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should explain why the PAC in the past six months had failed to focus on the PMC scandal running into tens of billions of ringgit.


When Parliament reconvenes tomorrow, MPs should be provided a full list of the failed government infrastructure development projects, divided into two categories – those entrusted to PMCs and those where the PMCs were not involved, like the RM400 million MATRADE building scandal.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman