“Selangor should just cancel transit system project awarded to company of Hannah Yeoh’s hubby”

Letter to editor

I AGREE with Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) that the Selangor state government and some related federal agencies should not have awarded the transport related project to two companies on the basis of negotiations. An open tender system should have been opted for.

The CEO of the controversial company Asian Mobility Technologies Sdn Bhd, Ramachandran Muniandy, happens to be the husband of the Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh. The other company awarded the project is the Badan Bas Coach Sdn Bhd.

I don’t understand why the Selangor state government with the approval of the relevant federal bodies did not call for an open tender in the award of the project to these companies. An open tender system – the mantra of the Madani government – would have rendered the awarding of the project transparent, competitive and free from cronyism and favouritism.

Hannah Yeoh (left) and Ramachandran Muniandy (Image credit: Stories.my)

It is difficult to accept the argument of the other co-founder of Asian Mobility Premesh Chandran that an open tender system would have created a monopoly, stifled competition in the real world setting and make it difficult to assess the performance of the service providers.

Premesh went on to defend the transparent nature of the award to his company based on performance and expertise – that the company had all the expertise, knowledge and competence to undertake the transport-related project.

MACC closes its eyes?

Whatever the arguments in favour of a negotiated award, it cannot be superior to the one based on an open tender system. Specialised nature of the services cannot be invoked to defend the award of projects on the basis of negotiations.

How can the Selangor state government defend the award when it is part of the Madani government that gives importance and priority to an open tender system.

Maybe, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should look into the matter because it touches on the nature of governance of both the state and Federal government.

As I have said before, it is not about the competence or the lack of ability on the part of Asian Mobility to manage the new demand responsive transit (DRT) system.

It is whether the project was awarded to Asian Mobility on ethical and moral grounds given the fact that the CEO Ramachandran is the husband of Yeoh.

Yeoh might not have had any influence on the award of the project to a company helmed by her husband. However, such an award might give rise to suspicions and doubts whether the award was based on the adoption of transparent and accountable procedures.

It is strange for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to dismiss the award of the project on grounds that there was no conflict of interest.

Since Yeoh was with a different ministry, the question of her having influence on the award of the project did not arise. It is preposterous that the MACC would dismiss allegations about favouritism and cronyism without even investigating.

It is not that the MACC is a paragon of virtue when it comes to investigating corruption, finance misdeeds and others, especially when it involves those in the government of the day. MACC has been accused of selective persecution by the opposition.

At least in the case of Asian Mobility, the MACC could have a done an investigation before dismissing allegations of wrongdoings. The MACC clearly failed on this matter.

What’s PMX’s stance be like?

Most disappointingly, the DAP leadership has adopted a deafening silence on the matter. The party that used to advocate the adoption of an open tender system seems to have taken the role of mouse in the present controversy.

Such a silence fits very well with the new name pejoratively given to the party as “Denial Action Party”.

Selangor state DAP executive council member Ng Sze Han went to the extent of defending the award of the project to Asian Mobility by completely overlooking the family links between Ramachandran and Yeoh.

What is Anwar’s stand on this controversial matter? Is he going to defend the Selangor state government and the federal agencies in awarding the transport-related project to Asian Mobility given its family links?

Has Anwar forgotten all the propaganda about reforms and the need for an open tender system to ensure transparency and accountability?

Or is Anwar not serious about reforms as long the present political circumstances are conducive for him to stay in power?

The controversy over the award of project to a company with family links will be another albatross around the neck of the Madani government. The sooner the project is withdrawn or cancelled, the better it is for the government.

Meanwhile, I will urge Yeoh to seriously contemplate resigning from her ministerial post. Or alternatively, her husband Ramachandran should resign and relinquish all links with the Asian Mobility.

Or the Selangor government should cancel the project and opt for an open tender system. Is Anwar who is also the Finance Minister prepared to advise the Selangor state government to do so? – May 28, 2024


David Marshel is deputy chairman of the United Rights of Malaysian Party (Urimai) interim council.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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