PETALING JAYA, 25 June 2009: Petaling Jaya city councillor A Thiruvenggadam said his expose on contracts between the Pakatan Rakyat state government and waste management company Alam Flora is a state government matter for which his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), should not punish him.
Thiruvenggadam today replied to a show-cause letter from PKR asking him to show proof of his allegation that the PR state government divided Alam Flora contracts among the PR’s three parties in this way: 40% to PKR, 30% to PAS and 30% to DAP. He said the contracts were given to supporters of these political parties.
“My answer is that this is a state matter, not a party matter. Also, the Selangor Menteri Besar has promised to set up an audit committee to investigate my claims,” Thiruvenggadam, who is also the vice-president of the Petaling Jaya Selatan PKR division, said.
The show-cause letter was issued by his division’s acting chairperson Shariffudin Budin on 18 June 2009. The letter gave Thiruvenggadam seven days, which expires today, to reply.
Thiruvenggadam said to his knowledge, the audit committee promised by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in response to his allegations has not been established.
“The committee can come to me first and I will give them leads as to who and where to investigate,” he told The Nut Graph at his office today.
He is also “not bothered” with the possibility that his expose would see the end of his career as a councillor.
The state government is to announce new appointments or term-extensions of Selangor local councillors next month. Thiruvenggadam is said to be on the list of those who will be dropped.
“If I’m dropped for speaking the truth, I’m not bothered, it is the state government’s right to appoint me. I will just leave it to the public to judge,” he said.
Thiruvenggadam considered himself a whistle-blower even if it means exposing his own party or PR.
Sivarasa He disagreed with PKR vice-president R Sivarasa, who said that there was “no harm” for politicians to recommend contractors to Alam Flora, since the waste management company still made the final decision.
“Contracts should be given out through open balloting. Otherwise, we are not changing from the old policies and practices of Barisan Nasional,” Thiruvenggadam said.
He said he raised alarm bells on the Alam Flora contracts about two months ago after he learnt of it from a councillors’ meeting with Petaling Jaya Mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman, who mentioned the 40-30-30 breakdown.
Asked if he had any physical proof of the figures, he said the directive to divide the contracts that way was “likely an understanding and not in black and white”.
But he said he felt vindicated when Khalid announced that the state government would begin conducting open balloting for the contracts. Khalid had said that a new mechanism to “allow all eligible companies equal opportunities to be appointed” would be in place in about a month’s time.
Thiruvenggadam said he only wanted the PR state government to adopt changes and undo past BN policies in the procurement and awarding of contracts.
“I want PR to stay on in power. But if they don’t change, the democratic process will play its part and they will eventually be voted out,” he said.
Following his expose on the Alam Flora contracts, DAP’s information chief Tony Pua called on the Selangor government to hold competitive tenders for the contracts.
In his blog, Pua also disagreed with Sivarasa’s stance on allowing politicians to recommend contractors, saying, “Political parties have no position, business or role in putting forward names of preferred contractors for the purposes of municipal council contracts”.
Thiruvenggadam is said to be the most vocal of Petaling Jaya City Council or MBPJ councillors. He writes a weekly column in Tamil daily Malaysia Nanban in which he exposes lopsided contracts and other issues affecting the Indian Malaysian community.