Malaysians are shocked at the exposes of impropriety in the award of advertising contracts

Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 18.03.2011.

Malaysians are shocked at the exposes of impropriety in the award of advertising contracts worth a total of RM381 million by the Ministry. Integrated Strategic Communications(ISC), the advertising company behind the ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ campaign since 1999, has alleged that bribes were solicited from them in order to secure the renewal of their contract.

ISC issued a press statement published by the Malaysian Insider that it withdrew a bid to renew its contract with the Tourism Ministry after being asked for bribes in exchange for the deal. ISC said it was rebutting Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen’s denial of “ambiguity” in the tender process for the advertising and promotions contract, worth a total of RM381 million.

ISC founder and chief executive officer Austen Zecha alleged that both he and his deputy were jointly approached on January 19 to “offer the client” (the ministry) a 50 per cent “rebate” or an annual share of the firm’s income from the account. In exchange, he said, ISC would then “re-win” another three-year Tourism Malaysia contract for the Europe, North America and Oceania tender. This request for a bribe essentially led ISC to decide to withdraw its tender on Wednesday, January 26,” Zecha said.

Once again, corruption allegations from a big advertising agency have implicated a senior Cabinet Minister. Seen in the context of the recent arrests and charges against two former senior Ministers from the same party, Malaysians are rightfully disappointed with the opaque and irresponsible manner in which public funds are managed.

What is interesting is ISC’s claim that its chairman was at one time its co-founder and investor , Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. The root of this ugly plague of corruption is the system that has long fomented such practices. The only solution therefore, is to allow for open tenders held in public view. Penang’s CAT administration of Competency, Accountability and Transparency that not only allowed open tenders but that the tenders be conducted through e-tenders online to limit human interaction.

The DAP urges the MACC to pursue these allegation without fear or favour. We also call for the Federal Government, and the Ministry of Tourism in particular, to prove their commitment to fiscal transparency as preached in the Prime Minister’s New Economic Model, by immediately instituting open tenders for all government projects henceforth.

Lim Guan Eng

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