Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 6th August 2008: 

Call for Royal Commission of Inquiry into MRR2 scandal – Samy Vellu’s final folly with Malaysians again made the suckers

In May last year, I said that the old saying “once is accident, twice is coincidence, thrice is enemy action” could appropriately be modified to “once is accident, twice is coincidence, thrice is systemic government collapse” in reference to the spate of government mishaps under the Abdullah premiership.

I was referring to the spate of embarrassing defects in new government offices in a matter of weeks, viz:

• the landslide in Putrajaya (Precinct 9) only inches away from three 15-storey government apartments, damaging 25 cars and evacuating more than 1,500 people from Blocks A, B and C in Phase 11 of the government housing complex on March 22, 2007;

• the closure of the Immigration Department headquarters in Putrajaya after water flooded the seven-floor building following a failure in plumbing, turning away and evacuating more than 1,000 people on April 11, 2007;

• the collapse of a ceiling due to a leaky sprinkler system at the Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Ministry in Putrajaya on April 28, 2007; and

• the ceiling collapse in a secretary’s room at the world’s largest court complex at the new Jalan Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur on April 30, 2007.

This tag “once is accident, twice is coincidence, thrice is systemic government collapse” can again be invoked over the latest government scandal – the third closure with the reappearance of cracks on the Middle Ring Road (MRR) 2 in Kepong, less than two years after an atrociously exorbitant RM70 million repair of the RM238 million project.

When the MRR2 was partially closed on Sunday after two motorists cheated death when their cars were hit by debris when carbon fibre straps on one of the pillars gave way, the Works Minister, Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamad made two statements:

• “We will not compromise on the safety of motorists although my officers have reported that the structure is safe”; and

• “The government will not bear any cost because the repair is still under warranty until the end of the year”.
Both statements are bunkum and have little credibility, which were the trademark of the former Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, whom Mohd Zinn should not be emulating.

The latest MRR2 Scandal is Samy Vellu’s latest folly with Malaysians again made the suckers.

The MRR2 has become a hydra-headed scandal for multiple reasons, including:

(1) Closed down the first time in August 2004 and second time in February 2006 because of flyover cracks within two years of its original completion, when it should be able to meet international standards and last for 100 years.

In February 2006, Samy Vellu boasted that the MRR2 viaduct in Kepong after repair “could be used for 95 more years because they were normally built to last 100 years”!

In August 2006, when MRR2 was re-opened to light traffic, Samy Vellu further boasted that “Motorists are assured of their safety” as the standard of safety set for the road was higher than the 1.5 British Standard benchmark, i.e. 1.7.

All these boasts have been punctured by another MRR2 mishap and partial closure for three weeks on Sunday.

(2) Samy Vellu had repeatedly declared as Works Minister for 42 months from August 2004 to March 2008 that MRR2 contractor Bumi Highway would have to pay for the full repair cost, which is another scandal of good governance.

This is because of the unexplained and unaccounted four-fold cost overrun in the MRR2 repair bill, from the originally estimated RM18 million to the final bill of RM70 million.

Although theoretically Mohd Zin is right that the new repair bill will have to be borne by Bumi Highway, this is a meaningless statement as Bumi Highway has not spent a single sen for the earlier RM70 million repair which had been fully borne by the government and taxpayers as “advance payment” for the contractor!

This is where Malaysian taxpayers have been made suckers again and again by empty and meaningless Ministerial statements and assurances.

(3) Revelation that the solution adopted by the Works Ministry to repair the original MRR2 cracks went against the expert recommendation of Halcrow Consulting Ltd, advising against the use of pre-stressed carbon fibre to strengthen the pillar heads because of its limited ductility (capacity to deform before fracture). (The Sun)
Halcrow was paid RM8 million for its consultancy report which went down the drain when it was rejected by the Public Works Department.

(4) The personal and direct intervention of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resolve the intense turf war between the then Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and the PWD, requiring the covening of a special meeting on a Friday on 3rd February 2006, which was attended by among others the second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcob and the then Chief Secretary Tan Sri Samsudin Osman.

Samy Vellu won the battle against the PWD at the Feb. 3 meeting but eventually lost the war. Although Samy Vellu announced after the meeting that the MRR2 repair work would be supervised by the British-based consultants Halcrow, maintaining that the costs would be RM18 million, the turf war was finally won by the PWD at a Cabinet meeting two weeks later which upheld the PWD’s recommendation in awarding the repair work to German consulting firm Leonhardt Andra and Partners (LAP) at a cost of RM40 million, which later mushroomed mysteriously to RM70 million!

(5) Ministerial responsibility by the Prime Minister and all Cabinet Ministers for the new MRR2 cracks scandal, as the Cabinet must set an example of accountability to the entire public service and the nation for its decision on the repairs.

(6) The failure by the government officials, whether from the Finance Ministry or the Public Works Department to give proper and truthful account for the MRR2 scandal to the Public Accounts Committee of the previous Parliament, to the extent that some officials had committed parliamentary contempt in misleading the Public Accounts Committee.

Samy Vellu said yesterday that he has no comment to make on the second MRR2 scandal and that he would only answer questions from a government-appointed panel of inquiry on the matter.

Samy Vellu owes the Malaysian taxpayers a full and truthful accounting for his stewardship of the Works Ministry, as he had presided over many follies and scandals which have ended up with the Malaysian taxpayers as the suckers in footing the final bills.

For this reason, I call for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the MRR2 scandal, both the first and second, to let their full sordid tale to be told and accounted to Malaysian taxpayers.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor