Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
One of the country’s largest padi seed suppliers to have bagged a government contract has conceded that his company did not meet thetender criteria, but pointed out that others are in the same boat.
“This is not an issue,” said Mansor Md Nor, the manager of Haji Md Nor bin Haji Abd Rahmah (M) Sdn Bhd (HMN), brushing off the allegation.
Asked to respond to a claim that his company was in breach of a tender criterion that requires bidders to own plants, he admitted one of the two plants operated by HMN was leased from Muda Agriculture Development Authority, a federal agency.
“The plant (in Sungai Burong, Selangor) was in poor condition. After we took over, we renovated, fixed and repaired it to meet all the criteria set by the authorities,” he said.
HMN had received a quota of 20,000 tonnes from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to supply padi seeds to farmers from 2013 to 2014.
This was the second-highest quantum among all 10 bumiputera suppliers, as posted on the ministry website.
Together with Kilang Beras Seri Merbok Sdn Bhd, which topped the list with a quota of 22,000 tonnes, they accounted for 52.5 percent of the total annual quota of 80,000 tonnes.
A spokesperson for Seri Merbok refused to comment when contacted, preferring to leave the issue to the Agriculture Ministry.
Last week PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar had revealed aleaked letter in Parliament, purportedly sent by the Finance Ministry to the Agriculture Ministry.
The letter states that RM164.8 million allocated for the supply of padi seeds under an Agriculture Ministry programme had allegedly been awarded to suppliers who have failed to meet the tender criteria.
‘The people have not complained’
Stressing that HMN, established in 1992, is a pioneer in the industry, Mansor said Mahfuz failed to gather comprehensive information on the matter.
“Those who have complained are politicians, the people themselves have not complained. This is a political issue because if the people (don’t want to), they don’t have to buy the seeds from me. We have proven that we have the capacity to process the padi seeds,” he said.
The issue had been widely circulated on the Internet since last month, following an anonymous article purportedly written by ‘Anxious Member of MoA [Agriculture Ministry]’, alleging that both HMN and Seri Merbok are cronies of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar.
Mansor has denied this. He insisted that the company has complied with other criteria set by the agriculture authorities.