Ali Baba practice: Works ministry unit to monitor Sarawak Bumi contractors

Works Minister Baru Bian.

KUCHING: The works ministry will set up a monitoring unit, in collaboration with the entrepreneur development ministry and Sarawak Public Works Department, to curb the “Ali Baba” practice among Bumiputera contractors in the state.

Its minister, Baru Bian, said the proposed unit would assist his ministry with information on any malpractice pertaining to the procurement of government tenders in the state.

“I am very concerned and my ministry wants to help Bumiputera contractors in the country but there are many problems because the system is being abused.

“Based on feedback, the ‘Ali Baba’ practice is very common and not only occurs in Sarawak,” he told a media conference after a dialogue session with 31 Sarawak Bumiputera contractors at the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Centre here today.

At the dialogue, he said it was also proposed that Bumiputera contractors given government tenders be required to sign a pledge not to transfer their contracts to non-Bumiputera contractors.

They risk being blacklisted if there is proof against such errant Bumiputera contractors in Sarawak.

Toll rebates

On the issue of tolls imposed on highways in the peninsula, Baru said his ministry would look into various alternatives for road users in the next two to three months, including discussing with the stakeholders on toll rebates, lowering tolls or preventing toll hikes to ease the burden on the public.

“We are weighing all these options with the concessionaires concerned within the next two to three months.”

Baru was clarifying a recent news report in a portal that quoted him as saying decisions pertaining to the abolition of tolls would be known in two to three months.

He said scrapping of tolls was not viable at the moment and the Cabinet had already made a decision that the matter would be postponed until the country’s economic situation recovered.

Meanwhile, Baru, who is also Sarawak PKR chairman, said Sarawak would be among the last states to vote on Nov 10 at the party elections.

“Everyone is given a chance to campaign openly and I also don’t hinder anyone from coming here to campaign. This is democracy.”

Regarding Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement yesterday on the need for a mechanism on the funding for political parties, he said proper legislation and guidelines, as advocated by non-governmental organisations and social activists, should be looked into.