…All looked well and good. For RM12 million, the much-maligned MRR2 could be repaired and open to traffic with Halcrow’s input. But there was a bitter battle within the Works Ministry. The Public Works Department revolted. They did not want Halcrow as they had someone else in mind. Those in the know talked about a “civil war:” where the civil servants stood up to the political master and rightly so, spoke their mind.
Even a vociferous “it was decided by the cabinet” line was not acceptable to the “experts”. The top guns from PWD went to Putrajaya and met the prime minister, requesting that the cabinet decision be reversed. The asking price by the new firm – Leonard Andre and Partners (LAP) was a mere RM18 million – just RM6 million more and they were providing space-age technology – carbon-fibre to save the cracking pillars.
It did not matter that such technology had never been used in this part of the world but if RM18 million was the final price tag, there would be little to complain. But the price escalated to RM70 million (don’t ask me how and why) and what we got for that mammoth spending was drops of stones from the top of the flyover and a waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Who is going to be held accountable for this monumental man-made disaster? Everyone would scream and say: “Ask the ACA to investigate!” but this is not corruption, but a wrong decision which has resulted in Malaysians having to suffer for the follies of a few in high places. Don’t expect anyone to commit hara-kiri and don’t even expect any resignations. That’s not our style – it’s Western and by doing so, “we are aping the West.”
So, what can we expect? Can we anticipate someone standing up and saying: “Yes, I take responsibility. It was me who approved the use of carbon-fibre technology which had never been tested or used in Malaysia previously.”
Or would another stand up and say: “We made a wrong decision and we accept total responsibility for that decision.”
No dear readers. Right now, it’s hunting season and the hunt for the scapegoat(s) has just started. There will be many (including innocent parties) caught in the crossfire. But the pain can easily be compensated with lots of purple-coloured security paper.
The prime minister’s words are telling indeed. “When I read the newspaper headlines on my way here, I knew the public would not be happy. In fact, some will be pretty angry knowing that there is damage at the MRR2, even after spending a huge amount of money to repair it earlier.
“This could have been easily avoided if those responsible had ensured that earlier repair works were done properly. If this had been done, there would be no damage and the rakyat would not be fuming,” he told staff of the Prime Minister’s Department on Monday at its monthly gathering.
Yes, Sir, You are spot on, but do the people responsible for this debacle share your views? Do they care that the rakyat would be angry? Do they care that even after spending so much money, we cannot have safe roads? Do they care if they did not ensure remedial works were conducted properly?
No, Sir, They are in a world of their own. They don’t owe the rakyat anything, not even an explanation. They know that the rakyat are paying their salaries, but it makes no difference. For a while, people will talk about MRR2 and the problems. After two weeks, there’ll be another issue which will make headlines and attention is diverted elsewhere. Everything has been well-scripted.
Mr Prime Minister Sir, this is an opportune time for the government to show that it means business and that it will not accept dereliction of duty. This has been said so many times in the recent past by the Chief Secretary to the Government. It has to be done. Those responsible for this mess must be hauled up and held accountable for their actions or inaction. Only this can appease the angry rakyat who expect safe roads to drive on. After all, they pay their taxes which go towards the construction and maintenance of good roads. Anything less will be short-changing the people.