Who is to blame for the massive defects in the recently built Mokhtar Dahari National Football Academy?
Was it the one who dished out the tender and appointed the contractor?
Was it the contractor?
Was it the Public Works Department (JKR) as the project manager and supervisor?
As usual, I am seeing a merry-go-round of finger pointing and blaming. I think the defects at the academy are not unique. Like most government-funded projects, the problems are in fact quite typical.
If we were to look at the problems objectively, the blame could be attributed to all because the whole system is probably not functioning properly.
How did the previous minister appoint this contractor? According to the report, it was because this same contractor did the first phase of the project. But did the minister check the contractor’s past performance and records? Since it was a negotiated tender, did the minister get the best value for money for the project?
I think it is not sufficient for him to say that his job was to get the funding and it was for JKR and the contractor to get the building constructed. Did he appoint a reliable and credible contractor to begin with?
Then, we have JKR blaming the contractor for the shoddy job. But why talk about defects now after construction is over? Where was JKR in project monitoring and supervision during the construction? Was JKR sleeping or being bribed to look the other way?
In the past, the mighty JKR used to do everything in-house, from designing and building to maintenance. Now almost everything is privatised and yet it would appear that the department has not been able to properly monitor and supervise the jobs under its care.
As for the contractor, surely he was at fault too. More often than not, the main contractor will subcontract jobs to others but without proper monitoring and supervision to ensure that the jobs are carried out according to specifications.
To me, let’s cut the crap: I think everyone along the chain was at fault. They didn’t monitor and check on each other. They didn’t reprimand and take remedial steps to quickly rectify deviations and correct defects on the spot. It is pointless to point fingers at each other now. All are at fault.
As for the new minister, I think he should do his job without fear or favour. Yes, he should find out the cause of the problem but he shouldn’t be too benign and politically correct.
I am a novice in politics but not in public administration. I write “day to day” stuff because these are the things that will affect us the most. I believe what I stated above is not far from the real situation.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.