Monday, June 14, 2010

Malaysia new Istana now costs RM800 million NOT RM400 million

June 14 — Deputy Works Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Seng said The new Istana Negara in Jalan Duta will now cost more than RM800 million, and not RM400 million as announced by the government in 2006.
He added that the new Istana projects were awarded to 3 companies Ahmad Zaki Resources,  Kejuruteraan Kenari and Maya Maju through direct negotiation without any tenders being called.
When questioned by DAP's Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming about the non-tender status and balloning costs,  Yong said the project was special citing it requires additional security measures as it is the first time the country is building an Istana Negara for the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

Dear Datuk - what a LAME reply . As a tax payer,  I expect a better reply than such "one-liner" replies !!  Isn't this against the principles of the New Economic Model ? According to the Treasury, any procurement of more than RM200,000 must be made through open tender.

I have no objections that the government wish to build a new Istana . Perhaps  the present Istana is in such a bad shape it posts a poor image to foreign dignitaries. Maybe the repair and  maintenance costs is too expensive and economically it is wiser to build a new one. Or even maybe the government has plans to tear down the Istana, and plan to redevelop or sell off the land to private developers as commercial or residential realizing a big profit out of it. Whatever the reasons for it, we will never know the real reasons for this massive project. We can only speculate and once the rakyat start speculating, it is not good for the ruling government.

It was barely a month  we were given a gloomy picture of Malaysia possibly going bankrupt by 2019 if the rakyat do not support the proposed subsidy cuts. In the recent 10th Malaysia plan presented by our PM Najib we hear about the need of more spending on new developments to improve the quality of life and make Malaysia a high income nation. It does not reflect well to the rakyat that the government now need to spend another RM 400 million more due to costs overruns ? Most people believe by the time the Istana is complete it'd costs more than RM 800 million ; then the government will "explain" again the increased costs.

What can the government do with the additional RM 400 million or RM800 million ? Just basing on our PM's  Najib's proposed 10th Malaysia plan, there are so many possibilities such as :

- RM150 million to train 20,000 school dropouts
- RM80 million for Relief Fund for Loss of Employment from 2010 to 2012 to
provide assistance to workers retrenched without compensation
- RM500 million each to provide loans to workers and school leavers for
training and skills upgrading

- RM50 million to continue the matching grants for training and skills
upgrading of small and medium enterprise employees

- RM50 million to fund apprenticeships involving more than 8,000 students

- RM50 million to co-sponsor employees to obtain industrial PhDs

- RM350 million allocated to continue programme of partial financial
assistance for PhDs in local universities started in 2009

- 6,312 km of new roads in Peninsular Malaysia, 2,540km in Sabah and 2,819
km in Sarawak to benefit 3.3 million people nation-wide

Clean water to 99 pct rural households in Peninsular Malaysia, 98 pct in
Sabah and 95 pct in Sarawak

- Electricity for rural areas almost 100 pct in Peninsular Malaysia and 99
pct in Sabah and Sarawak

- RM400 million for Literacy and Numeracy Screening (LINUS) programme
between 2010 to 2012 to ensure all students have basic literacy and 
numberacy skills after first three years of primary education

- RM140 million to develop 100 high performing schools by 2012

 RM160 million for reward programme between 2010 and 2012 for head teachers
and principals

- 197 new clinics costing RM637 million will be completed in first half of
10MP i.e. 156 clinics in rural areas and 41 community health clinic

50 additional 1Malaysia clinics to be set up in urban poor and over
underserved areas

 Four new and four replacements hospitals costing RM600 million will be
completed in first two years of 10MP. They include National Cancer Institute
and the Cheras Rehabilitation Centre

- 161,00 new units of public housing
- 78,000 units low-cost public housing units for qualified individuals of
less than RM2,500 per month

And the list goes on and on and on ...................
All money spent on above will benefit the rakyat directly especially the poor and less capable.

This Istana project and the projected ballooning costs will only casts doubts to the rakyat about the government's credibility of financial management. How will  the "rakyat di-utamakan" rule in this scenario ? One will start hearing all sorts of rumours and I am very sure over the next few days, the web will be abound with tons of blogger's,  opposition and NGO's queries and comments. We will hear  again threats from the government not to question " royalty issues" and to downplay this project's costs as it is another "sensitive" issue.

What type of comments and  rumours will we be hearing ?? These will be some of the typical ones:

- Kickbacks and corruption especially since is a non-tender project
- The UMNOputra connection - the monetary benefits to the few who are well connected ??
- Suffering of the common folk who is struggling daily due to escalating costs to cover their expenses while the ruling government goes on a spending spree
- Questions on the "securities issues" that no tender was called
- Credibility and past performance of the 3 companies given the project

Dear Barisan Nasional : please justify this project or you risk losing my vote and many others in the next General Election.

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