DAP rep mocks Najib’s response on RM50 mil question

Pending assemblyman Violet Yong.

KUCHING: A DAP assemblyman has described as “interesting” former prime minister Najib Razak’s response to her question to the Sarawak government on why it is spending an “outrageous” sum of money on the appointment of a project management consultant (PMC) for the state’s RM11 billion coastal road network and second trunk road projects.

Pending assemblyman Violet Yong said Najib’s statement had shed some light that although Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had left Barisan Nasional, the understanding and relationship between Najib and GPS might be more than “skin deep”.

“Is Najib answering on behalf of GPS? Does he know more than what you and I know?” Yong asked at a press conference at the state legislative assembly here today.

Yong had urged the state government last week to explain its decision to appoint non-Sarawakian firm OPUS Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd as the PMC at a sum of RM50 million for the first package of the two projects.

She said the state government was ready to pay OPUS at least RM165 to RM198 million for the projects, which are expected to be completed in phases over eight to 10 years.

In a Facebook post on May 2, Najib said Yong should apologise to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng via WeChat for calling the expenditure on the projects “outrageous”.

“She claimed that the RM50 million cost for employing OPUS Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd does not make sense.

“The company belongs to UEM Edgenta Bhd. UEM Edgenta Bhd is owned 70% by UEM Berhad. UEM Berhad is 100% owned by Khazanah Nasional,” he said, comparing the sum to the RM305 million cost for the PMC to the Penang undersea tunnel project, which is worth only RM6.3 billion.

“Which is more outrageous and does not make sense?” Najib asked.

Yong said Najib should not use what was happening in other states in Malaysia as an excuse to stop her from speaking out at the state legislative assembly.

“In my opinion, although Najib was former prime minister of Malaysia, he might not understand the sentiments of Sarawakians after all.

“No wonder his Sarawakian team left BN in a hurry and decided to do some re-branding exercise as GPS,” she said.

She questioned the need to appoint a PMC given that the state’s Public Works Department was responsible for the implementation of all infrastructure projects.

“If there are competent local consultants, should they not be given the priority by the Sarawak GPS government?

“Should we just appoint OPUS based on the argument that the company is a government-owned or a government-linked company,” she said.