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MP SPEAKS | Why are Umno-BN leaders unconcerned about LCS scandal?

MP SPEAKS | Umno has urged the MACC and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to respond to a document purported to be the leaked MACC investigation paper on the judge who convicted former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

According to Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, the document had been circulating online and is an offence under Section 220 of the Penal Code.

He urged the MACC to confirm or deny the veracity of the document and the AGC to announce any follow-up action on the investigation.

Reading this report, I am struck by the question of why Umno and BN leaders are completely unconcerned about the RM9 billion littoral combat ship (LCS) scandal, which turned a “dream project” into a national nightmare!

The complete unconcern of Umno and BN leaders becomes more acute and jarring as the cabinet just declassified the report of the Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement, and Finance (JKSTUPKK) on the procurement of six LCS.

The report revealed that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was solely responsible for the RM9 billion LCS scandal, unless there were “hidden hands” behind Zahid.

Were there “hidden hands” and who were these “hidden hands”?

Zahid yesterday issued a statement saying the Federal Court’s decision to reject Najib’s application to adduce fresh evidence in his SRC International appeal could “erode the integrity of the judiciary”, but he was completely silent about the JKSTUPKK report which exposed his primary role for the LCS scandal.

Can Zahid explain his silence on his primary role in the RM9 billion scandal, which exposed his earlier constant denials that he was to be blamed for the scandal as lies?

The JKSTUPKK report disclosed that Zahid, as defence minister at the time in 2011, sided with the contractor, Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) instead of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), the end-user for the six LCS ordered by the government.

Contractor chose LCS design

Can Zahid explain why he failed to prioritise the RMN in choosing the design of the ships and why instead he chose Gowind LCS, overturning his earlier decision in favour of Sigma LCS as recommended by RMN, without first referring to or discussing with RMN as the end-user?

Near the tail-end of the report contained a request letter dated July 8, 2010, from then BNS managing director and vice-executive chairperson Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor to Zahid for a letter of intent from the government for the LCS project.

Located at the top of the letter were Zahid's signature, stamp, and handwritten directive reading "Sila Laksanakan" (please get this done).

According to the Navy chief at the time, Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar, a situation where the contractor gets to choose the design instead of the end-user had never happened before.

The report further revealed that the Navy chief also said the quotation process went against the standard practice of the international tendering process.

The Navy chief said there were elements of manipulation by the BNS deputy assessor in providing "misrepresentation" of information to the BNS board of directors.

During the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proceedings on the LCS scandal, the PAC was informed that the six LCS procurement was a “dream project” of the government that had gone wrong, where the procurement was so “lop-sided” that “more power and more authority were given to the 49 percent holder than to be given to BHIC (Boutstead Heavy Industries Corp. Bhd)”.

I observed the three charges against Ramli had nothing to do with the LCS scandal.

All three charges were before the issue of the LOA (Letter of Award) for the LCS procurement which was issued on Dec 16, 2011.

As the three charges against Ramli pre-date the issue of LOA for the LCS procurement, which meant they related to other defence procurement scandals, can MACC explain why after 10 years, the MACC failed to prefer a single charge against anyone for the RM9 billion LCS scandal?

Can the MACC say how many people will be charged for the scandal?

Additional govt funds

Hishamuddin said after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the ongoing construction of the first LCS will not involve new allocations from the government.

But he has not been able to answer my query why the Defence Ministry has reduced from two to one LCS which must be completed and delivered by the contractor with no additional government funds.

When Hishammuddin appeared before the PAC on Jan 25, 2022, he spoke about the “corporate restructuring” of the RM9 billion LCS contract and that the contractor, BNS, will have to deliver two LCS without any new cost to the government.

But an even more important question is whether the contractor BNS agreed to complete the first littoral combatant ship without involving new government allocations!

Hishammuddin should realise that in the information era, the practice where ministers and political leaders can go into hiding and ignore questions is over. They must answer questions publicly put to them.

LIM KIT SIANG is the Iskandar Puteri MP.

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