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Monday, 5 December 2016

DBKL officer demoted, fined and placed on desk duty for corrupt practices in running of Crematorium.

DBKL officer demoted, fined and placed on desk duty after Cheras crematorium probe

    The DBKL-run crematorium in Cheras is the centre of an MACC probe after questions arose over handling of its maintenance. – filepic
    The DBKL-run crematorium in Cheras is the centre of an MACC probe after questions arose over handling of its maintenance. – filepic
     
    A SENIOR civil servant who is under probe for alleged corrupt practices over a multi-million ringgit contract to maintain the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)-run crematorium in Cheras has been demoted, fined one day’s salary and put on administrative duties for a year.
    Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said City Hall’s disciplinary committee decided to take action on the officer for failing to follow DBKL’s standard operating procedures (SOP) for tenders.
    When asked if the official concerned was aware of the correct procedures, the mayor said: “He knows, it was not really a big mistake, but we want to send a message to all DBKL staff, from the top to the bottom, that we do not tolerate such mistakes and that is why the officer was demoted from Gred 52 to Gred 48.”
    “As for allegations of alleged abuse of power and corruption, the case is now with the Federal Territory branch of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and we will leave it to them to investigate.
    “However at DBKL level, we felt that a strong message had to be sent to all staff that we do not condone such blatant abuse of process,” he reiterated.
    Amin Nordin explained that the officer failed to get the department head’s signature while preparing tender documents for the crematorium contract.
    DBKL run Cheras Crematorium offers the cheapest service in the country. – filepic
    DBKL run Cheras Crematorium offers the cheapest service in the country. – filepic
    For City Hall projects, before a contact can be tendered out, the SOP is to get the department director to sign off on it before it goes to the tender board for evaluation.
    “Before the tender documents are passed to the Procurement Department, it must be signed by the director of that department.
    “In this case, the officer bypassed the director, which he did not have the authority to do so.
    “The correct process is that the deputy director and senior officers will prepare the documents, and the department director will give the go-ahead by signing it.
    “And only after that, the document will be sent to the tender board whereby the (tender) committee will evaluate the contract,” said the mayor.
    He added that the tender committee would analyse the financial aspect of the contract and pick the lowest bid.
    The entrance of the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    The entrance of the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    The committee will see if the price is similar to the previous contract and will take the market price into account.
    StarMetro reported in September that a senior DBKL official was being investigated by its integrity unit under MACC for alleged abuse of power and corruption.
    The official was investigated in relation to the Cheras crematorium maintenance contract.
    The senior official had awarded two contracts between 2015 and 2016, namely the maintenance of cremation burners and the purchase of six additional burners worth RM10mil for the currently underutilised crematorium.
    The maintenance contract involves the upkeep of seven cremation burners, costing RM7mil for three years.
    DBKL’s integrity unit initiated the investigation as it deemed the contract value was exorbitant and that DBKL was being overcharged by 1,500%, based off the market rate.
    One of the cremation burner at the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    One of the cremation burner at the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    Contractors were also said to have submitted inflated invoices for unnecessary maintenance works.
    DBKL was being billed about RM2.3mil a year for the maintenance of the burners.
    But according to experts in bereavement care services, the actual cost is much lower.
    Staff from a leading local funerary services company told StarMetro that the average cost to maintain seven cremation burners would only come to about RM150,000 a year.
    This works out to a maintenance bill of under RM21,500 per burner annually.
    This figure was corroborated by another company in the industry.
    According to industry insiders, the average cost to maintain one burner is between RM23,000 and RM30,000 per year.
    The waiting area of the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    The waiting area of the Cheras crematorium. – filepic
    Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) spends between RM100,000 and RM200,000 yearly to maintain its crematorium, which has three burners.
    Going by the bill charged to DBKL, maintenance fee for its crematorium is a whopping RM329,000 for one burner.
    Contract retained but under scrutiny
    Following the investigation, the mayor said City Hall would not cancel the maintenance contract as it was a legally binding one, but will scrutinise the work thoroughly.
    A committee comprising officers in various levels from the relevant departments will be monitoring the work and rationalise expenses submitted by the contractors.
    The committee was established by former DBKL acting project management executive director Dr Leong Siew Mun, who has since retired.
    “We will be monitoring everything closely.
    “From now onwards, before any payment is made, our technicians and engineers will have to certify the quality of the work done; as well as the quality of the materials used.
    “And only after we are satisfied with the results, we will certify and only then the director in charge will sign off on the payment,” said Amin Nordin.
    Mere coincidence
    When asked to comment on the conflict of interest presented when DBKL awarded two contracts between 2015 and 2016 – namely the maintenance of cremation burners and the purchase of six extra cremation burners worth RM10mil for the underutilised crematorium – to two different companies operating under the same business address, DBKL Engineering Mechanical and Electrical Department director Ahmad Firdaus Ahmad Fakhrurrazi said it was just a “coincidence.”
    “That was by coincidence only.
    “They (contractors) just happened to be the participants of a new tender, it was an open tender.
    “We did not know that they were the same people, but they submitted their bid and they qualified because they were the cheapest.
    “Ninety percent of the time we pick the lowest offer in a tender exercise.
    “We cannot stop anyone from participating (in a tender), this was not a direct negotiation,” he added.
    StarMetro had previously reported that the Kepong-based Gamma Mekar (M) Sdn Bhd, which was awarded the maintenance contract for the crematorium last year, had also lobbied for the contract to purchase another six burners for the Cheras crematorium.
    StarMetro also discovered that a company by the name of Asiatera Engineering Sdn Bhd was awarded the contract to purchase the six burners several months ago.
    A search with the Companies Commission of Malaysia showed that both Gamma Mekar and Asiatera Engineering share the same business address in Kepong.
    The contract was suspended after it was brought to the attention of Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
    Learning from their mistakes
    “I want to ensure that everyone involved in projects and tenders followed the correct SOP," said Amin Nordin.
    “We are watching everyone, those who are living beyond their means better be warned.
    “I have asked all the department directors to submit and declare their latest assets; so far I did not find any discrepancies at director level.
    “But if there is any, I am confident that MACC will get them sooner or later,” he said.
    Amin Nordin said that he was now scrutinising deputy directors in DBKL.
    “We are transparent. We have nothing to hide.
    “The tender committee comprises accountants, legal officers, quantity surveyors and representatives from the Federal Territory Ministry.
    “If the project amount is valued at RM10mil or more, then additionally Finance Ministry officials will also be scrutinising us,” he said.
    Of late, MACC has been on a crackdown against graft in high places.
    On Aug 15, three government officers – one with the title “Datuk” and another “Datuk Seri” – were arrested by MACC for graft, misuse of power and money laundering.
    One of them was charged with 18 counts of accepting bribes and accumulating assets as well as obtaining illegal income of up to RM4.99mil.
    The officer has been suspended temporarily by DBKL pending investigation.

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