MACC nabs company directors over RM800 mil road project in Sarawak

MACC’s Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya says the suspects were arrested after the defence ministry’s internal audit report revealed the failed project.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two company directors in Sarawak have been arrested on suspicion of corruption as well as submitting false claims worth tens of millions of ringgit in connection with the implementation of 10 road upgrading projects under the defence ministry in Sarawak worth some RM800 million.

A source from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said the two directors, both aged 44, were partners who owned three companies that monopolised the related projects, and were detained in a special operation in Kuching.

“The road construction project which connects several small towns in Sarawak is called ‘Projek Jiwa Murni’ under the ministry concerned, and it was awarded to the company from 2010 to 2016.

“Many complaints were received from the local community regarding the bad road conditions due to the quality of construction that did not meet the specifications,” the source told Bernama.

According to the source, some of the roads could not be used and were damaged several months after being built, and the areas involved are Miri, Kapit, Ba’kelalan, Limbang and Belaga.

“Technical studies found that these roads do not meet the road construction standards set by the Public Works Department (JKR) at all, and in fact, these roads are only paved with a layer of tar which is estimated to be merely two inches thick on the ground surface.

“There is no layer of gravel and sand as stipulated in the terms of the contract, and this caused the roads traversed by heavy vehicles, including timber lorries, to be easily damaged, and thereafter could not be used by light vehicles as a connecting road to the interiors,” said the source.

According to the source, the Sarawak government had instructed JKR Sarawak to repair and upgrade the roads due to the failure of the appointed contractor to implement the project.

“This has caused the cost of repairing the road to multiply, and the leakage has caused the state government to suffer hundreds of millions of ringgit in losses,” said the source.

The source further explained that the most shocking thing was that out of the four new contractors appointed by the state JKR for the project to upgrade and repair the roads, one is believed to be owned by the same directors who carried out the earlier failed project.

According to the source, companies under the purview of the ministry concerned should be blacklisted from obtaining further projects after failing to implement the project given.

“They should be held accountable and have action taken against them, but instead, despite what happened, they were given another project using the name of a different company.

“Both the directors of this company will be brought before the Kuching Magistrate’s Court tomorrow for a remand application under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” said the source.

Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya confirmed the arrest of all suspects.

He said the investigation into the case was done in collaboration with the defence ministry after the ministry’s internal audit report showed the failure of the project.

Khusairi said the investigation was conducted under sections 16 (b), 17 (a) and 18 of the MACC Act 2009.