The Sun dated July 20th 2009 featured an article titled “ How drug firm got tourism job” in which the Tourism Minister has denied “any political link in the awarding of a RM 19 million contract to a drug company to built the Malaysia Pavilion for the 2021 World Expo in Shanghai, China”.
Sure, it raises doubts to many because what has a drug or pharmaceutical company got to do with a construction business. But Tourism Minister said that “the multi-million ringgit contract was awarded to Venturepharm Asia Sdn Bhd via an open tender and the process was carried out in a clear and transparent manner”. This explanation sounds silly, but it is possible that it can be done they claim, regardless of what the bidding company’s core business is.
I am reminded of a similar case that happened to a tender bid for the Defence Ministry sometime ago. A local company that had invested millions of ringgit in the transfer of technology for the manufacture of bullet resistant vest locally had bidded for the contract, knowing that theirs being a locally manufactured product would stand a better chance to be offered the contract. But to the surprise of the company, they had a competitor in the form of a tailoring company that had also bidded; of course for an imported product.
Simple and logical reasoning would straight away disqualify the tailoring company from bidding because they are merely traders, without any intention of a transfer of technology from its original equipment manufacturer. And for the same simple and logical reasoning, the company that had manufactured the product locally should be offered the contract, provided the product meets the specifications. Even if the product does not meet the specifications, surely the purchase can be deferred to allow the local manufacturer to improve on the product quality.
I believe there are other locally manufactured products that has somewhat lost out to imported products, because the users have a better preference for imported stuffs; not because the product does not meet the required specifications, but merely the fancy for anything that is imported.
In our desire to see that the local defence industry grows, the Defence Ministry has to be serious in formulating policies that gives preference, or the ‘first right of refusal’ to companies that have invested in technologies to develop and manufacture any defence related products locally for both the local and export markets. If such policies are to be adhered to strictly by the ministry, I believe there will be more private sector participation in the development and manufacture of defence related products. We need to be serious in putting a stop to the ‘buying culture’ that had drained out millions, if not billions in our foreign exchange.
Malaysia now has a strong industrial base and a well developed human capital that can spur the development of a modern defence industry. What is actually lacking, and as I have said it many times before, the political will to do something right for our defence industry.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION