No doubt as "investigative" blogger, we have expressed our suspicion of corruption, kickback and collusion of certain transactions, especially corporate transactions.
However, it is dangerous to assume without a logical explanation. The explanation must tally with procedures and usual process of tender. Sensible documents be presented to substantiate and it must be sensible.
When it involved government contracts, too often the public and even professionals have a tendency to assume the occurrence of corruption without knowing how the process of awarding contracts are done.
Such often heard words like "Ah ... sure ada apa-apa", "In that position, he sure take one ... who would not", and other versions. That is basically assuming there was corruption occurring when in fact, they are unsure.
Strangely, despite not having details on the transactions, the manner it was done, the story behind it, and who did it, some remain adamant.
Even if the whistle blowing is cautionary in nature and not meant to be taken to court, there should be a decent level of information being revealed for public to judge.
A certain former YB, though a professional and mature person, seemed to have fallen into such category of people. He seemed adamant with his accusation without knowing he is factually wrong. In his sincere effort to be a whistle blower, he only knew half the story and naively helping corruption to flourish.
And there are those who took for granted that the public are not aware of how sneeky certain things are done by orchestrating it in the media.
Just few weeks back, while getting clarification on a certain story, we met up a professional lobbyist for brunch at Dunkin Donut.
Frankly, nothing unsavory about the role of lobbyist in procurement of contracts. It is a relevant role to get decision makers involved in a contract to understand by highlight the salient points of a proposal.
Some may assume such lobbyist are the middle man that arrange kickback to committee members and decision makers. Probably the black sheep, but this one said it is pointless.
If the proposal and strength of the company is there, it will be a matter of time. Those that have to dish out money are those with inferior proposal and profile. Anyway, we are not going to get lengthy but to highlight a simple and important point in the process of contract award.
Decision on contract awards are made by the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The Ministries and agencies only provide requirement and technical capability or perhaps recommend companies which most meet the technical requirements.
It is then forwarded to MoF for further evaluation and final approval.
Firstly, there will be another technical evaluation and they make their recommendation to another higher committee. They do take into account the recommendation of the Ministries or Agencies but they have their own evaluation based on supposedly their own criteria.
There will be cases where the recommendations differ. Seldom there will be back and forth correspondence between the committee and the Ministries/agencies. There could be discussion before coming down to a decision by the MoF technical committee.
The final committee will evaluate the price quoted as to suit the budget. So they will make the final decision as to the contract that meets the best price and technical specification. As explained by the lobbyist, MoF or the agency would relay officially to the companies on the decision.
Ministers or for certain big amount contracts, the Prime Minister chair the committee meeting. In general, the process is done by government servants.
For anyone making accusations against Ministries and Agencies, they better not make a fool of themselves. To say, politicians or Ministers 'makan', do get the story to be absolutely right.
Its that simple a process but sometimes flip flop occurs.
This had been symptomatic with the current government since Tun Abdullah administration. It could be intervention or just plain negligence to assume things for granted and mistake only spotted later.
We did ask the professional lobbyist on the issue of intervention. He explained it this way.
For contracts of a certain size of say below RM150 million, it falls on the authority certain committee. For amount more than RM150 million, it is the authority of a more empowered committee with members from more senior officials.
If there is a way to bypass the authority of these two committees, it is to get approval from the Economic Council under purview of EPU. Projects that can cut the red tape approval must be of strategic and importance consideration.
Not sure as to whom the ultimate power in deciding the faith of a proposal; the Minister or Committee. Could Minister in charge of EPU over ride and withdraw approval presumably with concurrence of the Council?
If there is any such intervention by the politicians, it is in the selection of key position like KSU in his Ministries. The Minister has the choice of selecting the person to be the Ministry's KSU.
Not sure but it is most unlikely for Minister of Finance, I or II, to intervene on the selection of other positions in the Ministry and members of the various contract selection committees. If so, then the Minister concern could be accused of indirectly tampering with the tender process.
Otherwise, it is the civil servants in MoF that is participating in corrupt or taking kickback in collusion with participating companies.
But, it is not easy to accuse when certain contracts are so specific. In the case of subjective contracts, like IT proposals, evaluation could be dependent on the decision makers understanding.
Nevertheless, without the power to decide, no one in Ministries or Agencies could award any contracts to anyone. As to how, Ministers or politicians working with the Ministers or Agency Chairman can get accused of awarding contracts to cronies for kickback, someone must explain.
Unless so and it better make procedural sense, the accuser is merely being hard headed despite being given special explanation. Hopefully, there is no racist intention to only pick on Melayu or a former DAP politician unable to shed his skin.
Sure it could merely be posing of questions.
But, Hitler's propagandist, Joseph Goebbels said that a lie or wild accusation when repeated many times will be believable to the naive, shallow minded and gullible. That is part of the reason complaint reports made to MACC are not to be publicly revealed. It could mislead the public.
Sometimes the manner questions are posed could be intended to create doubts against government and government officials but without any hard fact or proofs.
If this is the case, Dato Najib should not consider the ill-intentioned person for any position in government.
* Edited 8:30 PM