Bumi contractors in dire straits, want mega projects

Bumiputera contractors are getting fewer jobs, says their association. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Bumiputera contractors are in dire straits and want the government to give them jobs in mega projects.

The Malaysian Bumiputera Contractors Association says this is because fewer projects are being offered to its members.

Its president, Mokhtar Samad, said there are 2,646 G7 grade Bumiputera contractors who are innovative, financially strong and equipped with ideas on how to implement mega projects.

“The association hopes the government will not sideline them but give them due attention,” he told Bernama.

A check with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) website and other sites revealed that there are hundreds of Bumiputera contractors involved in projects of various sizes.

Mokhtar said Bumiputera contractors have the capability to undertake mega projects as they are not new to the construction industry.

Since the New Economic Policy was launched by then prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein in 1971, he said, the government had always given opportunities and funding to Bumiputera contractors from the lowest grades of G7 to G1 to venture into the construction sector.

“Many Bumiputera contractors have excelled in government projects and their track record has helped them to even venture abroad to places like Dubai.

“The government can help consolidate the position of Bumiputera contractors by continuing to place its trust in them.

“We want the government to find out why local contractors, especially Bumiputeras, are not making their mark any more and assist them to make a comeback,” he said.

Citing rail construction, Mokhtar said this was a good time to rope in Bumiputera contractors, who also included engineers, surveyors, architects, quality control and contract management personnel.

He said the association had raised the question of increasing job opportunities for Bumiputera contractors with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“We identified hardworking Bumiputera contractors who made it on their own without any assistance.

“We requested the government to consider assisting them just like what the Korean government did in the late 1970s.

“The Korean government provided guidance to their contractors. Government officials accompanied their contractors to explore opportunities overseas and established a construction bank,” he said.

Mokhtar said no Bumiputera contractor had gone bankrupt but many had reduced their workforce.

“However, some are also keeping their staff as they are optimistic of securing the ‘frozen’ contracts awarded to them earlier,” he said.