The Finance Ministry has been urged to clarify to the public on the exposure of the procurement of reportedly blacklisted X-ray cargo scanners.

Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) president Muhammad Mohan believes that the “whole awarding process is questionable”.

“Firstly, Nuctech Co Ltd was not supposed to be there, as there was a report of blacklisting, and this was even reported in the Public Accounts Committee hearing.

“Secondly, a company requesting to change the product brand after winning the contract is also strictly not allowed. If the government allows this, it goes against the tender process and is also unfair to other bidders, ” Muhammad told Malaysiakini.

He pointed out that according to the general rules of the tender process, if the winning company cannot deliver what it has pledged to, then it is only fair to let the next company take its place.

In response to the report that the bidding had been cancelled and re-tendered twice, Muhammad explained that re-tendering was actually quite common, but the reason for re-tendering needs to be explained.

‘Re-tendering is common’

“Sometimes, they (the government) realise some problems, such as the conflict of interest involved, then the tender committee may reject the entire tender process and call for a re-tender.

“Re-tendering is common, but the problem is that it is not efficient.”

Muhammad also pointed out that the auditor-general should take note of the issue when doing the next audit.

Action should be taken by the authorities, for example by the MACC, if any element of corruption is found in this blacklisted X-ray cargo scanners deal, he added.

Malaysiakini reported that the government planned to spend over RM240 million to buy 20 units of new X-ray cargo scanners.

The project was divided into two packages – one was for 13 scanners in Peninsular Malaysia and the second for seven scanners in Sabah and Sarawak.

The project was first announced by then finance minister Lim Guan Eng in December 2018. The result of the tender was published in January this year, which was only accessible for companies in related industries in the government electronic procurement system “e-Perolehan”.

According to a source in the industry, after re-tendering twice, Infomina Sdn Bhd was awarded the contract for the Sabah and Sarawak packages and the scanners quoted were manufactured by Nuctech, which was allegedly blacklisted by the Customs Department about 10 years ago.

A more puzzling situation was that PTS Resources Sdn Bhd, which won the contract for Peninsular Malaysia, was alleged to have issued a letter to the government to request to change the proposed brand to Nuctech.

When contacted, both Infomina and PTS Resources refused to confirm the product brand and model, citing a non-disclosure agreement with the government.

Malaysiakini was asked to seek clarification from the government instead.

The Finance Ministry and customs did not respond to Malaysiakini‘s request for confirmation and clarification. MACC has also been contacted for a response.

Nuctech is a subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings, which was established in 1997. It was headed by Hu Haifeng, the son of a former president of China, Hu Jintao, until 2008.

The company is the largest maker of security-screening equipment in China and has been involved in corruption cases in Namibia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Damansara MP Tony Pua, the former political secretary to former finance minister Lim Guan Eng, previously responded that all things were done in compliance with open tender and the Finance Ministry’s procedures.

Pua also claimed that the awarding of contracts followed the recommendation of the evaluation committee, which consisted of the Treasury secretary-general and senior officials of the Finance Ministry and customs.