Ever since the Pakatan Rakyat Penang state government took power in March 2008, we have made integrity and CAT governance(Competency, Accountability and Transparency) the hallmark of financial administration.
New measures implemented includes competitive and public open tender, payments directly to recipients without going through middle-men, priority given to Penang contractors, e-tender through the internet and a 2 week objection period to ensure that successful contractor no longer need “political cables” but “computer cables”. There is no doubt that competitive open tenders saves costs and improve quality.
Many contractors have been liberated with the implementation of open tenders at all levels. For Class F contractors which is only open to bumis, open tender system has allowed non-UMNO linked contractors in Penang to get contracts for the first time. In the past contracts are usually reserved for UMNO cronies and those outside the state. Clearly the competitive open tender system of PR is more transparent, accountable and beneficial to the people compared to the negotiated tender system for BN cronies.
What is more surprising is the outcome of the open tender system open to all races. Instead of perception that Malays cannot compete and that the non-Malay contractor would win all open tender contracts, this is not true. Since the new PR government took over, Penang Development Corporation(PDC) had issued 23 tender awards, of which 7(30%) were won by non-Malay contractors and 16(70%) won by Malay contractors. Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang(PBAPP) had issued 66 tender awards of which 22(33%) were won by non-Malay contractors as compared to 44(67%) by Malay contractors.
The performance by Malay contractors in an open tender system with non-Malays proves that Malay contractors can compete with others and win tender awards on their own merit. Clearly it is not the race that is an issue but failed policies that encourage dependency especially when it helps BN maintain the status quo and its grip on power.
A good example is China which suffered famine and severe economic distress with wrong policies of eating from ‘a single iron pot” no matter how hard or little one worked. However when China opened up its economy and allow one’s hard work and ability to determine one’s success and rewards, China transformed itself from being the “Sick Man of Asia” in the 1960s into the second largest world economy by 2011.
BN had instituted policies that stifles initiative, creativity, hard work, drive and productivity which benefited only the few BN cronies at the expense of entire country. For instance, a 30% quota of publicly listed shares were reserved for Malays but only a few benefited as many ordinary Malays never received shares from the Federal government.
The state government regrets that there are now certain elements within Pakatan Rakyat Penang that is aligned with BN in opposing efforts to implement an open tender system and CAT governance. We must remain steadfast as we are backed by results. The Penang state government has been able to turn a projected deficit of RM 35 million in 2008 budget to a record surplus of RM 88 million.
A projected deficit of RM 40 million in 2009 Budget has been turned around to record a surplus of RM 77 million. In fact the 2009 budget surplus would have been a record RM 92 million were it not for the payment of RM 14.7 million as a result of the Tang Hak Ju land scam of the previous administration.
Penang is proud to be the first state to hold public open tenders of government projects and procurement contracts and also conducting it through the internet(e-tender). By sticking to CAT principles, Penang is the first state or federal government in Malaysia to gain praise from Transparency International.
In politics, we want more friends than foes. But we are willing to lose friends and gain foes if we can change the mindset of the people by providing equal opportunity, be confident, self-reliant and attain international benchmarks. Pakatan Rakyat Penang’s greatest achievement to Malaysia and greatest threat to BN’s stranglehold on power is to prove that the right policies can make Malays and Malaysians compete and succeed against the best.