KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Jan – Another case of contracts awarded under dubious circumstances was revealed, this time a training deal worth RM23 mil handed out without open tender to an UMNO-related company registered to sell sports equipments.
At a press conference at the party headquarters here DAP Election Strategist Dr Ong Kian Ming sought an explanation from the Education Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin on why such a big contract was given through the back door.
“We question why this contract was given via direct negotiation to a company which was founded in 2008 ‘to venture into the sports equipment and product market’ in Malaysia,” said Ong.
The contract, awarded to Syarikat KH Sports World Sdn Bhd, is said to provide retraining for Physical Education (PE) teachers and training for other teachers interested in PE in Malaysia, through a program dubbed the ‘International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports’ or IDPESS.
A visit to KH Sports World website would reveal that the company is chaired by Kedah Puteri UMNO Vice Chief, Hisham Suhaili Othman, who also holds the titles of Langkawi Puteri UMNO Chief, Kedah UMNO Relations Committee, and Malaysia Puteri UMNO Treasurer for the Sports and Fitness Bureau.
IDPESS started in June last year, with the six month training program utilizing trainers from a lesser known American college identified as the United States Sports Academy (USSA), based in Alabama.
According to Dr Ong, “While the intention of providing retraining to PE teachers, especially those without qualifications, may be a good one, but the reasons to why the contract was given are to be questioned.”
Questionable credibility, overpriced
“We also call into question the decision to appoint a US-based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively by distance and online learning,” added Ong.
Ong also inquired about the USSA’s training credibility, citing that, as a primarily online institution, the college would “certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs.”
The estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600, he claimed, unconvinced that the academy is deemed fit to serve the supposed local enrolment of 1, 000.
Ong also sought explanations from Muhyiddin about the high cost needed for the program, suggesting the fact that RM22.9 million for 1, 000 students which “translates into RM22, 900 for every ‘diploma’ earned,” is way too much for a sports diploma.
“This is more than four times of what it costs to obtain a Diploma Pengajian Sukan (Diploma in Sports Studies) from Universiti Teknologi Mara, UiTM which costs about RM6, 000 for six semesters,” Ong explained.
Suspicions on the clandestine nature of the contract rose when Muhyiddin Yassin, also Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by USSA on 17 January 2013.
Muhyiddin was given the award for his efforts of “enhancing physical education in the building of a nation” through the initiation of the ‘One Student – One Sport’ policy amongst Malaysian schoolchildren, launched in June 2011.
Ong insisted that the awarding of the contract is yet “another example of BN’s ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’ (not walking the talk),” as while the Prime Minister (Najib Razak) is purportedly preaching transparency on one hand, the members of cabinet “does the complete opposite by awarding contracts at vastly inflated prices”.
“Did Muhyiddin’s honorary doctorate cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM23 mil? Is this the price the Malaysian taxpayers have to pay so that our Minister of Education can obtain an honorary doctorate?” – The Rocket.