Ministry Pays $5 Million More Than Rival Bidder

The Ministry of Defense on Thursday defended its decision to award a contract for military uniforms to a company that bidded for the job at a price more than $5 million high­er than its rival bidder.

At a cost of up to $322 per outfit, ministry officials said, the military would be sure to receive uniforms of superior quality.

Considering “only financial con­di­­tions [in the bidding process] is not enough,” co-Defense Minister Tea Banh said at a news conference to discuss the bidding on the uniforms Thursday. “It is not as sim­ple as some people have thought.”

The ministry granted the contract to produce 51 items—including uniforms, hats and accessories for military, air force and navy officers of all ranks—to Kong Hong, owner of the self-named company and son of So­kimex Co President Sok Kong, despite the company’s much higher price.

The Kong Hong company of­fer­ed to produce the uniforms for $62.5 million, compared with rival Paragon Company’s bid of $57.5 million, Tea Banh said.

But, he said, when procurement officers looked into the factories, they found Paragon did not have the capability and materials to produce the uniforms.

“[Paragon] does not have many things,” he said. He added that Kong Hong was much more experienced, having produced the military’s uniforms since the 1980s.

At Kong Hong’s price, the combat uniforms cost $70 each and officers’ uniforms $322 each.

The costs are high because the ma­terials are “high quality,” Tea Banh said. “I guar­antee that…if the Ministry of De­fense made any mistake or mismanagement or corruption in pic­king one company to do the work, I will be responsible for it,” he ad­ded.

Co-Defense Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay said that RCAF uniforms generally cost about five times more than civilian outfits “be­cause they are totally different.”

But, he said: “it is very difficult to explain…. Only army teams completely understand the issue.”

One Paragon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, claim­ed the bidding process was unfair and that his company should not have been required to have all the ma­terials on hand to win the bid.

“If you plan to build a high building, would you need your own ce­ment factory?” the official asked.


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