Bagan MP and former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has challenged the finance ministry to reveal details of the 101 government projects worth RM6.61 billion that were allegedly awarded by the Pakatan Harapan administration without open tender.
Lim suggested that the finance ministry was unwilling to do so because it would expose current Perikatan Nasional cabinet ministers who pushed for those direct-award contracts.
"Why is (the finance ministry) afraid to do so? The minister should not hide information. I challenge them to reveal all, so the public can see which company won the contract, which crony benefited, and which minister had sought those approvals.
"Perhaps Zafrul is afraid that he would be exposing the prime minister, who was the home minister during the Harapan administration and other 'pengkhianat' ministers, who sought direct-award projects from me when I was finance minister.
"Is the prime minister also wrong for seeking such projects at the time? Will they go to the extent of criticising themselves?" Lim asked.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz revealed the figures to Parliament, without specifying any details, in response to a question from Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan.
However, Zafrul did qualify his reply by explaining that direct-award contracts are allowed by the government if there was only one supply source available or if the project cannot be delayed.
Lim said government procedures allowed for direct awards for specific situations such as emergencies, procurement involving security agencies, and specialised services, among others.
The cabinet can also decide on direct awards, a point which Lim said the current ministers who were in the previous cabinet appeared to have forgotten.
Lim stressed that the finance ministry under his watch did not violate Item 23 of the Harapan election manifesto which said that the coalition would ensure wide-use of an open tender system, especially for major projects, and never explicitly said direct awards would be phased out.