PETALING JAYA: An online petition launched barely six hours today following an outcry over the possible loss of 20,000 jobs due to the cancellation of the underground portion of the contract for the MRT Line 2 (MRT 2) project, has received well over 16,000 signatures and counting.
Joyce Raj, who created the petition following Najib Razak’s comments earlier today that the termination of MMC-Gamuda’s contract to build the underground portion of the MRT 2 would result in “immediate job losses”, is standing in solidarity with them.
“The construction industry is already suffering a series of cancelled project tsunamis (HSR, ECRL, etc). Loss of revenue and potential investors continues to escalate,” Joyce said in a post put up with the petition, which had over 16,280 signatures this evening.
“The MRT project has put Malaysia on the forefront of tunnelling construction… being undertaken by a fully local entity, MMC-Gamuda, it has proven that Malaysians are capable via its nation building programs (sic).
“(It) also serves areas previously unreachable via public transportation. To delay the project any further by termination and retendering would incur massive rework, cost and further frustrations to daily KL commuters.
“The worst impact of all? 20,000 jobs at stake with the project termination!,” Joyce wrote, referring to the estimation the former prime minister included when he defended awarding of the tender after he received flak and criticism online.
On Sunday, Putrajaya terminated MMC-Gamuda’s contract after the two parties purportedly failed to reach an agreement about costs.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said this was done as the government felt it could gain “further significant savings” through retendering the project.
Today, Lim denied that the retendering exercise would cause 20,000 job losses, which MMC-Gamuda revealed yesterday.
“We are not cancelling it, but we want to get a better price. We’ve got a better price with RM5.2 billion savings for the above ground portion (of MRT2).
“And as for the underground project, the government believes it can get higher savings through an open tender,” he said on the sidelines of the “Malaysia: A New Dawn Investors’ Conference”.
Najib, who is former finance minister, revealed today the contract was awarded to Gamuda-MMC during his administration via an international open tender, which saw mega corporations from China, Japan and South Korea bidding for the project.
He added the finance ministry’s decision to now retender all unfinished underground work following the termination of the contract would not guarantee a lower cost than that offered by Gamuda-MMC, and questioned its rationale.
Signatory Anas Azazi wrote on the petition that “no one shall be sacrificed for any political decision” and that if the project tender had gone through the standard operating procedure, it shouldn’t be terminated without proper consideration.
Nalini Krishnan, meanwhile, asked for greater consideration on the chain effect the contract termination would have.
“The project is already halfway (sic). I have seen sleepless nights which my husband is going through for this work as well as for his colleagues and the entire team. Decision should be made beyond political influences,” she said.
MMC-Gamuda said it was supportive of the government’s drive to improve the country’s fiscal health and had offered a 24% reduction (RM2.3 billion) for the balance 60% uncompleted underground works, achieved through a reduction of the scope of works and specifications.
MMC-Gamuda explained that the two primary factors affecting the cost of underground works were the increased scope of works compared with the MRT Line 1, such as large floor space and a fivefold increase in the underground entrance and pedestrian walkways.
It also said the finance ministry had yet to convey to MMC-Gamuda an acceptable reduction figure for the project and that if they knew this figure, both parties would be in a better position to relook how the savings could be achieved.
Back on Najib’s Facebook post, in which he quoted MMC-Gamuda’s revelation that some 600 local companies would similarly lose out with the project retendering, most of those who commented were unhappy with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, saying it promised “false hope”, a play on words on its name.
Din Yusofdin commented on Najib’s post: “Woi PH, what will my children use to pay back their debts if you constantly throw their contract work away? My child wants to do business and even that she can’t do now.”
“We’re in difficulty but then you ask us to help donate to you instead. When will this new government help us, so unlucky is my fate. I’m finished,” wrote Rozi Sarkawi, in an obvious jibe at the Tabung Harapan fund, which was started to help get the government out of supposed debt.