KUCHING: Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has urged the Sarawak government to identify more officers to be trained as certified integrity officers (CeIO) to sit in the tender board and project award meetings.
Its chief commissioner, Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, believes the Sarawak government knows who are fit to be trained and empowered to make decision in the project award committee.
“Make sure that the officers sent to attend training are people of high integrity. The biggest question here is the issue of a person’s integrity, if we have the right people, it will solve all the integrity issues,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
He said MACC will be in a very difficult situation if they have to sit and deliberate at the tender board meetings. He explained that MACC has a very clear policy forbidding its officers from sitting in project award committees.
“On the suggestion by Chief Minister of Sarawak, we cannot allow our officers to sit in the tender board. There will be problem when accusations are made with our officers also sitting in the board,” he stressed.
He was commenting on the suggestion by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to bring in officials from the anti-graft agency to attend Sarawak government’s tender award meetings.
“I will include the Auditor-General to sit in our project award committee under the state tender board chaired by the State Financial Secretary.
“And I will also invite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to attend our state tender meetings,” Abang Johari told the State Legislative Assembly in his winding-up speech on Nov 14.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali explained that Sarawak has nothing to hide and wants to establish good governance by bringing in officials from the two watchdogs into the tender meetings.
“We want the MACC to be involved because the opposition is painting an image that we are corrupt. So the chief minister was thinking of bringing in the MACC and Auditor-General,” she said.
Sharifah Hasidah also said MACC must not be worried that their integrity will be compromised by joining the meetings if they are serious in fighting graft and preventing power abuse.
“This is about trying to see that things are done right from the start. I don’t see any problem if they are involved in the meetings. If MACC is there, they can have a say – this is wrong, this is right,” she said.
She also said the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government is facing the opposition coalition which is bent on attacking the government’s integrity by waging a perception war.
“We are facing an opposition that tries to create a very bad picture of the government now, especially the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister is a very clean person,” she said.
“Since that is so, and to ensure that things are proper, right from the start, we are asking MACC to join us in the tender meetings,” she added.
Sharifah Hasidah also stressed that the Chief Minister had always said that all contracts must be by open tender as Sarawak would be implementing many development projects soon.
“The Chief Minister has stressed that from now on, everything must go through open tender, except maybe some very specialised projects,” she said.
Thus, she hopes that MACC will be able to be in the tender board meetings and help the government to check procedures, stop what is wrong and make suggestions if necessary.
“If MACC really wants to fight corruption, they must be willing to sit in the tender board meetings. Help us to check, whether the process is right from the start and to make sure there is no (power) abuse right from the start, as we are going to implement many projects for the benefit of the rakyat now,” she concluded.
Separately, the Sarawak government welcomes the advisory from the anti graft body to find the best solution to prove that open tender process and the project award committee in the state are free from graft.
Abang Johari told Borneo Post Online they will meet with MACC soon to seek advice.
He was asked to comment on the statement by MACC Sarawak director Razim Mohd Noor that MACC Sarawak might not be able to sit in the tender board meeting as the anticorruption agency’s neutrality might be at risk and questioned.
Razim also said he would brief the Chief Minister and make suggestion on how best to deal with the situation when meeting the latter soon.