Prasarana Nasional Bhd should apologise to the public and journalists who had to sit through chairman Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s online press conference yesterday.
A two-hour circus full of sound and fury that some may describe as signifying nothing, only to be undone with a press statement issued with much less pomp, even if with more facts and sense, half an hour later.
Rather than closing the loop on their arguments and winning public opinion, what Prasarana and Tajuddin may have done is open themselves up to potential lawsuits and dig themselves further into public disrepute.
Tajuddin alleged that Bumiputera contractors were not being treated fairly by MRCB-George Kent (MRCBGK), the turnkey company for the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project.
He even said that there was a non-Malay consultant, and even named the person in question in the press conference, in relation to his allegation.
I do hope that person is looking at ways to take Prasarana and their chairman to task, for what may be seen as tantamount to defamation.
In their immediate response, MRCBGK noted that 39.7% of their contractors were in fact Bumiputeras, well beyond the government-mandated 30% quota, all thus far having been dealt with fairly, with no reports to support Prasarana’s claims.
The burden of proof lies with the accuser in any case, and naming a person in the open over such allegations without definite proof may be seen as quite despicable.
Tajuddin then alleged that MRCBGK only put up RM10 million in capital, and should put in some of their own funds and continue with construction work.
To which the company replied that it had been pumping in RM200 million out of pocket to keep the project going since July last year.
The Prasarana chairman then said it had paid up RM3.486 billion so far up to October 2020.
MRCBGK countered that any payment made in October was for work carried out until June 2020, with no payments made by the public transport operator and project owner for certified work since July onwards.
Quite honestly, the above is enough for the turnkey company itself to seek legal recourse from Prasarana for their numbers juggling and factual pussyfooting.
In between the questionable manoeuvring, Tajuddin even targeted the press, namely Malaysiakini and The Edge, asking them to break journalistic ethos and name their source.
At the same time, he also said that Prasarana’s CEO was suspended with pay due to “insubordination”. The question is to whom was the CEO insubordinate, exactly, and in what way?
Those questions were never answered. Though, quite frankly, with a chairman who could not even keep his story straight, it is a marvel how Prasarana could keep itself upright in these times.
The chairman then went on to admit that Prasarana could not make payment to the contractors because they did not have enough money.
Later on, Tajuddin said that the contract for Latitude 8, with a gross domestic value of RM1 billion, was granted to a company, in which persons related to him were shareholders.
However, seeing as how the project has been delayed since 2019, why has Prasarana not sued the contractor for failing to meet the deadlines?
Why not terminate the contract without cost for the failure and reopen the tender?
Also, Tajuddin said he suggested Prasarana should move into Latitude 8 and make it their headquarters, which will be in prime real estate in Kuala Lumpur.
Did he not just say that Prasarana was strapped for cash and unable to pay their contractors?
So why move into a glittering new headquarters in the prime area of Kuala Lumpur, when you can sell the building and make RM1 billion to pay your contractors?
Is Prasarana’s image and a billion ringgit office building built by a company, 20% of which is owned by the chairman’s family, more important than the public serving LRT3 rail project?
A project that will bring the people of Klang and Shah Alam into the city centre, alongside servicing the needs of about 10 million people in the Greater Klang Valley?
Because if image is so important to Prasarana, here’s one suggestion that won’t cost a sen and will be cheaper in the long run – get rid of your chairman.
The continuous inconsistencies and haranguing of the media throughout the press conference makes a mockery out of Umno, out of the already fragile Perikatan Nasional government, out of Prasarana as a government-linked company (GLC), and quite frankly – out of the rakyat who had to sit through such a debacle.
Hopefully, Umno, the finance ministry that owns Prasarana, the transport ministry, and the Cabinet itself can see how having Tajuddin as chairman of a GLC has made him a liability to everyone in governance and politics.
And quite honestly, some heads in Prasarana should also roll for agreeing to go along with such farce.
Source : FMT