In the wake of the 1MBD scandal and the arrival of a new government, has any meaningful change occurred in Malaysia procurement?
The answer is complicated. Tenders have opened up in Malaysia to an extent, especially in there period FY18/19 when Spend Network found 654 tenders compared to almost nothing before. But this 654 tenders compares to over 50,000 from Contracts Finder UK in the same period. On one hand, there is progress. However, if buyers released more notices, public procurement could be much more open for foreign companies.
On the ground, access to more detailed information is hard. Tenders tend to be let out by individual Ministries and although they often have portals, in reality, information is limited. Tender descriptions and details, along with specifications are almost always only available on hard documents. People who wish to bid often have to buy these documents. Moreover such documents are only accessible at a specific place and time.
The lack of information and difficulty in getting to it present barriers to foreign companies looking to export to Malaysia. However, with the new government and their desire to reduce corruption, the desire to change is there, as seen in the drive to draft a new bill for public procurement and the recent commitment to the Open Data Charter. It is too early to say what the change will be or its impact, but there is reason for optimism.