Ex-minister Kok questions need for RM100 mil rubber technology centre

Former primary industries minister Teresa Kok says Malaysia already has fully operational rubber research centres locally and in England.

PETALING JAYA: Former primary industries minister Teresa Kok has raised concern over the decision by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) to build a RM100 million rubber technology centre (RTC), which she said may turn into a white elephant, similar to a previous project by MRB.

Kok said the speed in which the RTC was announced raised questions as to whether proper studies had been done before it was approved by the board.

In a statement today, she said studies would take more than one year at least.

“I am sure the board could not have done all the necessary studies to justify spending RM100 million for the RTC in such a short time,” she said, asking whether fiduciary and finance ministry procedures had been followed.

Kok said MRB chairman Ahmad Nazlan Idris, who announced the project, was only appointed about a month ago but “appeared to have worked at warp speed” to have obtained the necessary approvals for the project in his parliamentary constituency, Jerantut.

She feared the RTC would end up like a previous project announced by former MRB chairman Ahmad Hamzah in his constituency in Jasin, Melaka, which cost RM44 million and remained uncompleted.

Saying they were “unwarranted and wasteful” projects sanctioned under the guise of so-called model rubber technology, she urged Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to explain if he was aware of the project, especially at a time when public funds should be prudently utilised.

Kok said Malaysia already had fully operational rubber technology and research centres in Sungai Buloh (formerly the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia) and the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre in England and in Kota Tinggi, Johor Bahru.

“It will be better for Ahmad Nazlan to look into the need to upgrade the existing research facilities in Sungai Buloh and boost their manpower and expertise to advance new innovations.

“The MRB owns huge tracts of land in Sungai Buloh and other parts of the Klang Valley to be able to achieve this. There is no need to build an RTC in Jerantut or anywhere for now – unless there is a clear political reason for its location – and there is little or no basis to justify its actual need,” she added.

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