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Is Samy Vellu going to hide behind the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to refuse to fully account why the repair bill for the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) rose from RM40 million to RM70million and the lack of action against the original contractor?
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Is Works Minister Datuk S. Samy Vellu going to hide behind the OSA to refuse to fully account why the repair bill for the RM 120 million MRR2 rose from RM 40 million to RM 70 million and the lack of action against the original contractor? Samy Vellu had explained that the RM 30 million extra in repair bill includes the fee for the German consultant appointed to do the repair early last year and that 31 out of 33 pillars holding up the flyover in Kepong were repaired instead of 18 as initially decided.
Samy’s shocking admission that almost all the 33 pillars needs to be repaired raises serious questions about the commitment and professional ability of his Ministry to appoint reliable and competent contractors with a track record and monitor government works. If almost every pillar needs to be repaired, why was there no action taken against those who appointed the contractor or most importantly the original contractor and the design consultant for such shoddy and unprofessional work?
The flyover was built by a consortium, Sukmin-Bumi Hiway-KKM (Wilayah), based on a design by consultant firm Maunsel, Sharma & Zakaria. Cracks on 31 pillars were detected in 2004 and confirmed by an independent consultant Halcrow Group Ltd of Britain. The flyover was closed in August 2004 and reopened in December the same year. It was closed again in February 2006 and reopened in August.
Paying RM 120 million for a dangerous flyover that threatens the safety of motorists is unacceptable. Spending RM 40 million in repair bill is already painful and shameful but to find the repair bill shoot up by nearly 100% to RM 70 million is a national scandal. To date no explanation has been forthcoming why no action has been taken to recover the money or that the responsible parties foot the repair bills.
Samy is fond of using the OSA as a desperate measure of last resort when he can not explain why certain companies are given such generous terms at the expense of the interests of Malaysians. When challenged why the government did not simply buy over the 5 Klang highways when the government had already paid RM 4,864 million in compensation or RM 739 million higher than the construction cost of RM 4,125 million , Samy replied,” Ask DAP to buy!”.
When asked to explain why the contents in the highway contracts are so one-sided and favourable to the highway companies, practically guaranteeing them extraordinary profits and insulating them against any losses, Samy invoked the ISA. Calling for action by the Attorney-General to take action against those responsible for ‘stealing and exhibiting’ the toll concession agreements which was classified as an official secret. Samy avoided answering why the people were the greatest losers from these contracts of high toll and why they did not have a right to know the contents when they were taxpayers and motorists contributing towards the highway toll.
To show that Samy has power, four opposition leaders including DAP NGO Bureau chief Ronnie Liu Parti Keadilan Rakyat Treasurer Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PAS Treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli and PKR Information chief Tian Chua are now investigated for possessing classified secret documents under Section 8 of the OSA which carries a penalty of imprisonment of a minimum one year and maximum 7 years. This is an abuse of the OSA which should be protecting national interest and not individual Ministers or interests of private companies.
Is the high repair bill for the MRR2 and Samy’s failure to take action and demand compensation from both the original contractors and the design consultant also going to be classified as a secret under the OSA?
There should only be a maximum of 5-10% variance in cost for any project. For a RM 40 million repair bill, any additional increase should not exceed RM 4 million. For the repair bill to exceed RM 30 million is too extreme shows lack of proper planning, poor cost estimation and poor administrative ability of Samy but also gives rise to public suspicions.
Samy must give a full accounting of the RM 40 million repair bill and the extra RM 30 million required to uphold integrity, accountability and transparency. Malaysians do not want to see the few well-connected companies or individuals profit at the expense of the many.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP