GEORGE TOWN: Companies bidding in an open tender with the Penang government in the future will be required to waive their confidentiality clauses in the interest of full disclosure.
The new ruling will also be applied to older projects awarded to companies from 2008, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters outside the Penang assembly here Tuesday.
He said the state government would try to “cajole and persuade” companies to reveal details, despite having signed agreements that included confidentiality clauses.
As for agreements related to pre-2008 projects during the Barisan Nasional’s reign, Lim said their confidentiality clauses were iron-clad and therefore impossible to reveal.
Lim said the move was part of the state government’s efforts to allow public access to information via the state’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment.
He said Penang was going towards an era of “full disclosure agreements or FDAs”, instead of confidential clauses, non-disclosure agreements or NDAs.
He said those who won open tenders with the government must be prepared to fully disclose all information related to the agreement when required.
“We believe we can convince the winning bidders (to reveal all) as they won by open tender, so what is there to be afraid of?” Lim asked.
He said for the “one-percenters” who obtained government projects via direct negotiations, they too should be obliged to reveal more.
“Ninety-nine percent of projects are open tender, only 1% economic game changers like Island Hospital, IKEA, and others were dealt with directly,” Lim said.
Lim said these “one percenters” could bring about jobs and high economic value to Penang.
He said these big companies did not mind disclosing documents but only after the deals were made.
Lim said the case in point was the sale of Peel Avenue land to Island Hospital which was kept under wraps until last week, to respect the principal company that had bought the RM156 million parcel of land.
Asked about companies undertaking projects with confidentiality clauses but which were reluctant to dish out details, even after “persuasion”, Lim said: “We can only ask nicely. If they do not want to, then it is best they do not do business in Penang.”
The FOI enactment came into effect on Jan 1, 2015, but many parties have since slammed the government for making it difficult to access information.
Many applicants had complained the documents obtained under the enactment could not be used due to confidentiality clauses preventing them from doing so.