Malaysian Federal Minister of Works, Datuk Seri Sammy Vellu placed the blame on State Government Public Works Department (PWD) for not being able to implement federal projects in the States of SABAH and SARAWAK, also commonly known as East Malaysia. He may have to set Federal Public Works Department in both States to undertake Federal Projects to ensure smooth and faster implementation of development projects.
The idea is very noble and very good, but will new departments do a better job under present circumstances!
Drawn from my past experiences, as Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and sources to-day, any delay on implementation of development projects, other siting delays, are due to mainly political interferences in the awards and implementations of CONTRACTS. Also affecting some contractors is the delay in payment of completed works.
Siting delays are difficult to avoid because it takes time to alienate land for the project if the land belongs to private individuals or companies. Even for roads some landowners may refuse permission to allow the road to go through their land. Thus the consultant involved may not be able to complete the design to be ready for tender as scheduled. A new Federal Department cannot resolve this especially if the Land and Survey Department, which a State Department refuse to co-operate.
Once a contract is ready for tender, if political interests intervene it may not be called for tender. Even if the project is ongoing, it maybe stopped by political interests. In these types of cases, Public Works Department cannot be blamed. They spent their time but wasted!
Once the tender is done and awarded, the project may not take off if it is awarded to a mere political ALI BABA. It is good for the Public Work Ministry to blacklist the contractors as a measure to eradicate bad or poor performers. But is it effective? Unlikely but current method of blacklisting has loop holes. One case in point, Penrissen Prison Project where the first main contractor failed to deliver and was stopped and then re-tendered. The second contractor was appointed but also failed until the Prime Minister got very disappointed about the project delay, the time he visited Kuching. Why the second main contractor failed because it was awarded back basically to the same individual or company but using a different company name. A bankrupt person can still have and run a company in Malaysia by using his wife, children or any other person’s name as his proxy. To them, blacklisting means nothing as long as political figures are still in their pocket book, the higher in the CORRIDOR of POWER, the BETTER and MORE EFFECTIVE in securing projects in Malaysia NOW!
The solution to all the delays should not be confined to upgrading or strengthening the Public Works Department alone. The whole BARISAN NASIONAL system of Government has to be reviewed and changed to ensure a smooth system of project implementation to ensure that projects are awarded to those who can get it done by themselves without subcontracting the projects to others. The delivery system has to be looked into critically as a whole and reviewed. If they have to subcontract, the subcontractors must be paid directly to make sure that they continue to have the financial capability to continue the contract. Blaming the Public Works Department is not the way to a better future!