PUTRAJAYA (Sept 19): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today it cannot be denied that there is a need for the government to conduct direct negotiation for procurement or purchases in some cases.
The prime minister said this has to be done "when something is essential for a certain purpose", for example in the armed forces.
“They (the armed forces) identify particular equipment and, if the particular equipment comes from only one company, then they can have direct negotiation.
“But they must state the reason why they want to have direct negotiation and they have to get the permission of the Ministry of Finance,” he told a news conference after chairing a meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption, here.
Asked about a viral letter on a RM450-million construction project in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, which was allegedly awarded through direct negotiation, Dr Mahathir denied that it was a direct negotiation project.
“But you have seen the notes because it has been viralled. You have seen the note that I wrote — it is a continuation of a project that has been given to this party. Whether it was direct negotiation or whatever.
“So, what I said there, that if this company is willing to reduce the cost and if it is a continuation of the previous project, I think it is not direct negotiation. It is only because the company is already doing that it is a continuation,” he said.
A letter from contractor PDM Builders Sdn Bhd to Dr Mahathir on the construction of Bangunan Gunasama Persekutuan (Federal Common User Building) at Tunjong, Kelantan, went viral. The letter also carries Dr Mahathir's handwritten note.
The note states: “YB Menteri Kewangan, projek ini telah diberi kpd PDM Builders. Jika mereka dapat kurangkan kos, tender baru tidak perlu.” (Minister of Finance, this project has been awarded to PDM Builders. If they can reduce the cost, a new tender is unnecessary.)
The letter also indicates that the contract was approved by the Ministry of Finance on April 20, 2018, secara tender terhad selektif (as a selective limited tender).
On criticism that his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, still own shares in Opcom Holdings Bhd, which is involved in government projects, Dr Mahathir said: "I did not sign anything. Did I sign anything to recommend that?”
Dr Mahathir said that as far as he knows, Mukhriz has given up his business because he is now the menteri besar of Kedah.
"So, if you give me some information, I'm going to ask him,” he said.