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Exercise some critical thinking before accusing Hannah Yeoh or Selangor state gov’t of nepotism By Stephen Ng

Publish date: Tue, 28 May 2024, 04:01 PM

THE word ‘nepotism’ has been stretched too far that I find it incredulous to hear people saying anyone married to a minister should not be given a government contract.

By definition, ‘nepotism’ means “the unfair practice of granting jobs and favours to relatives, often in business and politics.”

That was the reason I did not think that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should bow to pressure from unreasonable people when her daughter Nurul Izzah was willing to take up a non-paying job to assist her father in the Finance Ministry (MOF).

The former Permatang Pauh MP would have done a good job to ensure that all the terms and conditions of agreements issued by MOF are thoroughly vetted through.

For argument’s sake, if the award to Asia Mobility Technologies Sdn Bhd was clearly a case of nepotism, the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki would not have ruined his own reputation by saying that the graft buster did not see any issue with the Selangor transport project awarded to Asia Mobility.

I am therefore shocked to read that P. Ramasamy, supposedly a former professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), could agree that Asia Mobility and the second service provider are “competent individuals to undertake the project” yet unable to see this beyond his narrow definition of ‘nepotism’.

In short, what I see is, our education system has not produced people who can differentiate between what is right from wrong. Politicians and netizens alike just jump into conclusion blindly without thinking critically.

Just because someone is a relative of a public official, there is no reason why the contract cannot be awarded - especially when the party is competent to carry out the job.

One former Barisan Nasional (BN) minister’s son even dropped me a message, “Let’s see today how they (Asia Mobility) justify the transfer of several billion ringgit of taxpayers money to their private company”.

“Billions of ringgits? Since when?” I asked Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh whom I have known since 2008. I cannot agree with her more that things are “just (getting) more and more ridiculous”.

Big contrast

There is a sharp contrast between the case of former women, family and community development minister Tan Sri Shahrizat Jalil’s husband in the ‘Cowgate’ scandal and Yeoh’s husband, Ramachandran Muniandy who is CEO of Asia Mobility, one of two companies appointed by the Selangor state government to provide the Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT) service.

In the case of National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), it only involved one company being awarded the grant of RM230 mil while neither the former minister’s husband nor their son was ever engaged in farming activities previously.

On the contrary, Asia Mobility has bagged a number of awards, including the Newton Ungku Omar Fund Grand Challenge 2019 award.

Three years in a row, it has won a number of awards - a global semi-finalist for Toyota Mobility Foundation’s 2020 CATCH challenge, a global Top 150 semi-finalist for X-PITCH 2021 and being a sole Malaysian representative in the Entrepreneurship World Cup Global Finals 2022.

Its Trek Rides has also been recognised as a global Top 100 solution in the 2023 AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge besides being a winner of the Carsome Mobility Lab accelerator programme - the first auto ecosystem-focused accelerator in Southeast Asia - and most recently, selected into the 100Soonicorns in Malaysia.

Once implemented, the DRT targets to provide “a more efficient and cost-effective first- and last-mile passenger services” where both service providers are required to fork out millions to “procure vehicles, hire drivers and continue to optimise and develop the technology that powers the service”.

This is on top of being on probation for “a period of nine months” which will allow the Selangor state government to pilot the service in a real-world setting and assess the performance of the service providers while providing them the opportunity to improve their services for the entire period of time.

The DRT is arguably the first of its kind state-programme anywhere in Southeast Asia. Once successful, the DRT will enable on-demand shared rides services with the use of intelligent, machine-learning algorithms to automate fleet dispatch and optimise vehicle routing to accomplish efficient pick-up and drop-off of passengers headed to various destinations.

This is, in fact, a departure from the fixed schedule and route of conventional public transport services using 44-seater coaches which I have always lamented as inefficient. After the successful implementation of DRT, these coaches can then be deployed to provide efficient depot-to-depot services from the suburbs to the city centre.

No tender and no monopoly

Two, instead of one company, were appointed to ensure that there is no monopoly by a single service provider.

In this situation, where there are only two qualified companies in Malaysia providing a highly specialised new service, what makes national MCA Youth secretary-general Saw Yee Fung think it is necessary to have an open tender?

Saw’s idea of an open tender would mean just one bidder would ultimately have the monopoly of the services in Selangor.

Co-founded by Malaysiakini joint founder and former CEO Premesh Chandran and Ramachandran, Asia Mobility is after all, a Malaysian start-up since 2018. Having earned global and regional recognition, it has the potential to be a unicorn and may be the goose that lay the golden eggs to help boost Bursa Malaysia’s FBM KLCI if the company is listed.

Finally, look at the above TV3 poster. How is it possible for the TV station to even whip up a documentary on the couple within such a short time to broadcast on its channel? This must be all the work of cybertroopers.

Therefore, if only Malaysians learnt to exercise some critical thinking, we would not have arrived at such a situation where politicians make a mountain out of every molehill.  - May 28, 2024

Stephen Ng
Kuala Lumpur

Be the first to like this. Showing 15 of 15 comments


"non-paying job for Izzah" - Haha. I guest you're not politician. If salary is the only way to make money how come they manage to accumulate wealth incredibly beyond the amount of salary they receive.

2 weeks ago


a true meritocracy system shall see beyond color & relationship so long those companies competing for government project are selected via transparent & fair process.

2 weeks ago


Too much to expect for Malaysian able to think logically what more to think crtically.

2 weeks ago


As long as Malaysia is lead by id iots, the wise will continue to enrich themselves by detaching themselves from noise and power struggle.

2 weeks ago


I think the response by that company , instead of the State Govt, makes it worst. I failed to see its rationale that an open tender will create a monopoly in Selangor. In an open tender, there wont be only 2 companies to bid for it if the contract is lucrative. We have so many rides app ( like Grab, AirAsiaMove etc) that can also provide the first and last miles public transport services. Rapid Bus is already providing such services for MRT. So, it is not a concept that only 2 companies in Msia that can provide them. Avoiding an open tender basically implied that there are more than 2 companies and will reduces the tender price they are submitting. The State Govt should call for an open tender once and for all.

2 weeks ago


The future generations in Msia will be paying the high pensions for these more and more Msia politicians with many pensions from many govt posts. A real burden we are creating here. We should also cut these kind of pensions, not only the fuel subsidy. Can we also cut the crony subsidy? Looks like DAP is becoming MCA 2.0 now. Good job to scam whole Malaysia.

2 weeks ago

Mynihar Nihar

Why did DAP and PKR make so much noise and fuss when an UMNO MP received a privatisation project for an ITM educational institution, even though the MP was not a minister and the decision was made by a minister with no connection to him? Hahaha, what a joke. Since forming an alliance with UMNO, DAP has shown its true colours. Hahaha.

2 weeks ago


Don't condone corruption or favouritism in whatever form. Don't try to find reason to justify that it is okay. It spoils this beautiful country.

2 weeks ago


Why no open tenders???

2 weeks ago


must not only be clean but appear to be clean.

2 weeks ago


if this happen during BN times, DAP would be screaming and shouting nepotism favouritism till kingdom come
when DAP do, it's ok
when BN do, it's not ok
let's be fair!

2 weeks ago


don't expect too much
in the face of power and money
people changed
this is human nature
no exceptions to every country leader in the world

gratefully here we can change every 4 year
DAP now = MAC 2.0
MCA now = DAP 2.0

don't fall in love with any political party and politician
if you cannot practice what you preach
we change u

2 weeks ago


DJI -403
hu hu...

2 weeks ago


Some more she is the very popular

2 weeks ago


This whole issue reeks of racism and jealousy! That is the bitter truth.

1 week ago

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