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Friday, December 4, 2009

Builders say regulate first, punish later

The government should first regulate the construction industry before imposing penalties on any bad contractors, says Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM).

Currently, it is easy for anyone to be registered as contractor class A to F, unlike in neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand.

"MBAM is supportive of the government's move to make new laws to punish contractors who are proven to have done wrong. But first, the government must regulate (the industry)," its president Ng Kee Leen told Business Times in a telephone interview from London yesterday.

"Right now, it is easy for anyone to become a contractor, be it class A or B or C until F. Only a small number of the 60,000 registered contractors are actually active and genuine.
"The government needs to step up enforcement of existing laws to weed out incompetent contractors to ensure only truly competent professionals take on jobs," he said.

So far, the Works Ministry has terminated 80 contractors for late job completion.

The ministry reportedly said on Tuesday that it had no power to act against the contractor of the suspension bridge which collapsed and took the lives of three school children in Kampar, Perak, on October 26. The bridge, which was built as a contribution by the contractor to the school, did not meet the required engineering codes and specifications.

Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor had said the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) can only take action for non-registration against the contractor that built the bridge, but is unable to punish it for the mishap.

Instead, he directed CIDB to lodge a police report, citing negligence on the part of the contractor.

The minister is proposing a new law to make contractors of public projects responsible and be punished for accidents if they were found to be negligent or used sub-standard building materials.

By Business Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)