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LETTER | Don't let merits of LCS project sink in sea of rhetoric

LETTER | The cabinet has finally agreed to proceed with the littoral combat ship (LCS) project. That's refreshing news for a project that has been in limbo for years.

But soon after the announcement by Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, some questioned the need to go ahead with this mega project.

Historically many defence procurements have been marred by leakages, not least the LCS project.

While these concerns are valid, they should not distract us from the merits of the LCS.

Hishamuddin has rightly described the LCS as a "much-needed" asset for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

The project fulfils RMN's modernisation plan and is set to beef up our combat readiness and preserve the nation's sovereignty.

As a retired naval officer, I can attest that the decision will certainly boost the morale of our armed forces, particularly the RMN.

The RMN currently relies on old fleets that are ill-equipped to handle modern challenges.

Most of our navy’s vessels are already reaching the 30-year mark and the cost of operating and maintaining these is increasingly rising.

A fleet transformation programme will lead to long-term cost savings for Malaysia.

Those who are not familiar with defence may ask "Why do we need to spend so much money to upgrade our military capability during a time of relative peace?"

The reality is that Malaysia is a maritime nation with a coastline measuring over 6,037km and a sea area which is more than twice the size of our landmass.

If a ragtag armed Sulu "invaders" who encroached Lahad Datu by the sea in 2013 can cause so much harm to Malaysia, imagine what state actors can do.

Without the financial resources to build an armada that could match the numerical strength of rival fleets, Malaysia must instead rely on qualitative superiority.

The LCS offers that desired quality through its state-of-the-art technology, making its urgent delivery to the RMN essential for our continued security.

But now that the project has received the go-ahead, it is important to ensure proper and timely delivery of the vessels.

Hishammuddin's announcement of the setting up of a Special Governance Committee chaired by the Finance Ministry's secretary-general and the secretary-general of the Defence Ministry is a move in the right direction. Kudos to the Defence Ministry.

Constant monitoring is important to ensure that the cabinet receives periodic updates and that any leakages are swiftly plugged.

We cannot afford for a project of this magnitude and importance to be shelved again.

We have wasted enough time already.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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