KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — The
owner of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project has rejected
claims that Bumiputera contractors are being denied opportunities in the
construction of Malaysia’s largest infrastructure project.
Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB) group managing director Shahril
Mokhtar responded to Perkasa’s claims by insisting equal chances were
offered to all firms to bid for contracts under the multibillion ringgit
rail project provided they meet the regulatory guidelines set by the
“Prasarana is confident that the local market has a pool of genuine,
competent and suitably qualified Bumi and non-Bumi contractors. “The
pre-qualification (PQ) criteria are not overly stringent and enable many
experienced contractors to qualify on their own without entering into a
joint venture with others,” Shahril said in a statement.
He said the guidelines, which include pre-qualification criteria and
selection of the contractors for the work packages, were to ensure that only
“genuine, competent and suitably qualified” contractors who are able to meet
the project’s deadline are selected. Malay rights group Perkasa and other
NGOs representing Bumiputera entrepreneurs complained on Thursday that the
project’s “strict” guidelines effectively disallowed Bumiputera
participation and only benefited the “rich non-Bumis”.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Perkasa economic director Dr Zubir Harun
said the construction packages for the MRT were being “looted and
monopolised” by MMC-Gamuda, the appointed project delivery partner (PDP) for
the rail system. He said Prasarana had on March 30 imposed additional
criteria on contractors bidding for the project, making it virtually
impossible for Bumiputera participation.
The criteria, according to Zubir, were:
• contractors taking part in the project tender are forbidden from forming
joint ventures or consortiums;
• companies of contractors are forbidden from forming any joint ventures
with foreign companies in the tender of the project;
• the formation of a consortium of two or more companies is strictly
• bond payment of RM300,000 required at the pre-qualification level.
But Shahril brushed these concerns aside, claiming Zubir’s statements were a
case for misrepresentation. He explained that the guidelines had to be
imposed as the size and complexity of the estimated RM36.6 billion rail
project, Malaysia’s most expensive construction project to date, carries
with it risks of delays and cost overruns. “As such it is crucial that the
contractors selected must possess the expertise and financial strength to
undertake a project of this magnitude,” he said.
Shahril added that Prasarana had also extended invitations to both non-Bumiputera
and Bumiputera contractors to participate in the tender process and that the
criteria set out in March had two categories — Open category and Bumiputera
category. He also disputed Zubir’s claim that Bumiputera contractors were
unable to raise the RM300,000 tender bond required without entering into a
joint venture, pointing out that the major work packages were targeted
towards companies that have the financial strength to raise the sum.
“Prasarana is also aware that there are Bumiputera contractors who cannot
meet the criteria for the main work packages but are qualified to
participate in the subcontract work. “Therefore smaller contractors will
have opportunities and roles to play in the MRT project at a level that
commensurates with their skills and experience. They will not be excluded
from this project,” he said.
The total project cost of the MRT was estimated at RM36.6 billion for three
rail lines through the Klang Valley when it was first proposed two years ago
but that projection did not include cost of land and also rolling stock for
the MRT. SPNB has also not finalised the financing and project manager’s
fees for the MRT although planning has started for initial civil engineering
work to begin in November.
Regulator Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) had said the Finance
Ministry has set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to raise funds for the
project but had admitted the method has yet to be determined. The SPNB chief
had also said some 100 firms have applied for pre-qualification for the 16
packages in the elevated part of the 51km-long MRT; the deadline for
pre-qualification ended on April 13.
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