The King have had to wait another nine hours for a flight out of Kuala Terengganu airport. Last night, on 6th May ’07, he was scheduled to board a special flight at 10.45pm after gracing the prize-giving ceremony of the YDSMPENN Endurance Challenge 2007 at the Kelab Teluk Warisan in Pulau Duyong, near here.

Why? On Saturday, the runway lights failed to operate due to damaged power cables at the Sultan Mahmud airport. Two in-bound flights, one MAS and the other, AirAsia, were requested to return to K.L. Three departures from K.T. that evening, two returning flights to K.L. and a Firefly flight to Penang were postponed indefinitely. DCA panicked. The contractors handling the extension works at the airport were summoned. After much effort, the contractors promised the landing lights would be operational by Monday morning 7th May ’07.

The contractor is TRC Synergy Bhd which was awarded the contract to do extension work at the K.T. airport. The talk in town is that TRC is a Pak Lah regime ‘preferred’ company.

TRC have won too many contracts, mostly through direct negotiations, since Pak Lah came into office. They were also awarded the Bentong prison project which is nearing completion and the new Dang Wangi IPD headquarters.

The history of TRC is rather interesting. Some of the former directors were Dato’ Shahrir Samad, MP for Johor Bahru and his protege, Dato’ Khalid Nordin, now with the Ministry of Entreprunier and Cooperative Development (MECD). Khalid was formerly deputy Works minister.

TRC developed their strategic business model (SBM) by ‘investing’ in a number of UMNO personalities. Over time, MECD is said to have given a few ‘direct negotiated’ contracts to TRC, including several new MRSMs and IKMs which are currently under and/or will be built soon. They are also vying for the UniKL, Johor branch, project.

The new RMN base at Seppangar Bay in Sabah is another project given to TRC while closer to home in Putrajaya, they are building a ‘nice’ and ‘cosy’ villa for the Finance Ministry’s political secretary, a former chartered accountant, who is not a newbie to the contruction industry.

Someone did the math and said that TRC have amassed projects with a book order value in excess of RM1 billion ringgit under the RMK9 which is more than they could chew. Moreover, TRC are still lobbying for a few more ‘direct negotiation’ contracts but under different companies. Suffice to say, with TRC’s ‘SBM’, it is likely they will get these lucrative contracts.

In truth, the real player in TRC is Richard Khoo. TRC, the company and it’s directors are merely the front and lobbyists respectively for the real player and operators of this fast rising contruction company. To some who joked about the ‘Alibaba-ness’ of TRC, the acronym stood for “Tunggu Richard Cakap”, clearly depicting the one who calls the shots.

Perhaps, it is the cordial and laidback manner of Pak Lah’s regime to dish out so many contracts to one entity like in this case. Whether we should debate on this is open for conjecture but at the very least, TRC should do a good job at it.

If not for the King’s sake, then for the rakyat. Nobody likes to be left stranded.