Sungai Buloh ‘crony’ project against NEM spirit, says Pua

The DAP’s Tony Pua said today that speculation surrounding the joint-venture development of Sungai Buloh near here was against the prime minister’s commitment to transparency and competition.

The project was announced as part of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s New Economic Model (NEM) yesterday.

He said the deal showed the government was still awarding contracts and projects without open tender and rewarding them to what he called “cronies”.

The DAP national publicity chief and economic strategist said speculation is that Malaysia Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) will become the “master developer” has raised doubts about the project.
“Today, it has been speculated that the project will be given to Malaysia Resources Corporation Berhad which will be appointed as the master developer.

“MRCB has recently failed in its rights-issue exercise to raise RM566 million, where EPF had to buy up 171.4 million shares at RM1.12 each worth RM192 million which were not taken up. It demonstrated a clear lack of market confidence in MRCB and its major shareholder. EPF had to come to the rescue,” he said.

Najib announced yesterday that the government and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will form a joint venture to promote the development of 3,000 acres of land in Sungai Buloh into a new hub for the Klang Valley.

Pua said the appointment of MRCB would be against the spirit of the NEM.

“If it is true that MRCB will indeed be appointed the master developer of the mega 3,000 acres piece of prime land in Sungai Buloh then it will run in direct opposition to what the Prime Minister had promised in the NEM.

“The joint venture with EPF and the appointment of MRCB raises the following questions. On what basis is EPF appointed as the joint venture developer for the 3,000 acres of land? On what basis is MRCB appointed as the master developer for the project? Why have there not been any open tenders for the project?” he asked.

Pua also questioned the reason why the government is contemplating to appoint a company that is having financial problems.

“Why is the government favouring MRCB which itself was facing financial difficulties without any open bidding or proposals from the Malaysian, or even international, business community for a project which the prime minister estimates will cost up to RM5 billion to develop.

“Like the direct award of the proposed Malaysia’s largest exhibition and convention centre by Matrade to Naza TTDi without any open tenders, the government has once again shown it is unwilling to let go of its policy to award sweat-heart deals to crony companies without any transparency,” he said.

Pua said that he feared that the NEM will suffer the same fate as New Economic Policy because “the political will to change is just not there.”

DAP Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong said that the government must set up a parliamentary select committee to ensure there is transparency in the NEM.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak repeatedly stressed that there is a need for thorough consultation with the rakyat. I think one of the very major institution that he has to consult is Parliament and I hereby request that a select committee to be established,” he said.

Liew said that the NEM should not be released with the 10th Malaysian Plan in June because they are separate issues.

The Malaysian Insider
The Edge Financial Daily

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