The MACC has launched investigations into several contracts awarded on a direct-negotiation basis by the Health Ministry (MoH) to procure equipment for Covid-19 operation nationwide, said sources familiar with the cases.
Under the government’s guidelines for emergency procurement, ministries and agencies are allowed to make purchases or appoint contractors to carry out works without having to follow the normal procurement procedures.
Sources declined to specifically identify the companies that are under MACC’s scrutiny in the investigations beyond stating that “several” companies had been summoned by investigators to assist in the investigation.
The contractors have been questioned over allegations they have been contracted to supply mass testing laboratory systems worth RM30 million even though it is not their area of expertise, according to anti-graft sources.
The contracts were given at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia when there was a shortage of Covid-19 test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
The contractors include a construction company which had allegedly acquired a laboratory construction project for MoH.
“Emergency procurement is not a licence to appoint just any contractor. Contractors chosen must come from those that have the proper license, credentials and expertise to carry out the works needed.
“(Ministries) cannot simply appoint anyone to be a supplier. Most hospital equipment such as ventilators, laboratories and such require expertise to install, commission and carry out maintenance.
“Please let MACC do its job. Investigations are being done, and any form of speculation would only hinder the probes. At the same time, it paints a negative image on the alleged organisation and individuals,” a source was quoted as saying.
It is learnt investigators had already visited the Health Ministry last week and more people will be called in for questioning soon.
Health Minister Adham Baba had said the ministry will cooperate with MACC on the investigation.
He said the ministry is also constantly monitoring and ensuring its personnel practised a high level of integrity.
“The ministry will also support the MACC’s efforts to curb corruption and embezzlement. We will continue to work with MACC,” he had said in a statement.