KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Ex-defence minister Mohamad Sabu and his former deputy Liew Chin Tong today urged Putrajaya to hold a special Parliament sitting to debate the Public Account Committee’s (PAC) report on the Ministry of Defence's procurement of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
The duo in a joint statement said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz should be made to answer the matter in Parliament.
"We hope Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will allocate one day in early September to debate this matter so that we can find a solution on the procurement.
"We will also write to Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Rais Yatim to draw his attention in assigning one day during the sitting from August 8 to 16 for the debate on the PAC report as Parliament sitting will end today,” they said.
The report on the Procurement of Second Generation Patrol Ships, the LCS, for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) was tabled in the Parliament today.
The duo said the procurement of six LCS which was carried out through direct negotiations with a contract value of RM9.128 billion is the largest procurement in the history of the Ministry of Defence and also one of the largest projects undertaken by the Malaysian government.
"LCS procurement contract which started from October, 3, 2013 to October, 2, 2023 aims to increase the capability of RMN. However, until today no LCS has been completed,” they added.
When Mohamad Sabu was the defence minister, they said a Special Investigation Committee for Government Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) headed by Tan Sri Ambrin Buang was established in May 2018 to investigate suspicious projects — but fell through after its administration ended.
The duo also supported the suggestion made by PAC to declassify the report on the procurement of the six LCS and also the forensic audit report on the LCS project by Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS).
They pointed out that BNS appointed a forensic audit company called Alliance IFA in 2019 to carry out a forensic audit in an effort to identify whether there are leaks, irregularities and abuse of power in the procurement of LCS.
They also said the letter to the former Navy commander should also be declassified.
"Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar was the commander of the Navy from April 1, 2008 until November, 17, 2015. In the PAC proceedings, he informed that he had submitted at least 10 letters of reprimanding, letters of dissatisfaction and letters to inform the RMN’s position to the chief secretary to the government, five letters to the minister, one to the chief secretary of the Treasury, one letter to the chief secretary of the ministry, and two to the prime minister.
"The letters were sent as he found that there is something unusual happening in the procurement process where procurement is done by the government on behalf of RMN as the consumer, but full authority was given to BNS,” they said.
They said the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former defence minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had totally ignored the warnings raised by Abdul Aziz on the procurement of LCS.
They also said they were surprised by the proposal made by BNS in June 2021 on a contract or order book with a value of RM53 billion from the government for the purpose of obtaining a loan through sukuk (bonds) amounting to RM4 billion to restore the LCS project.
"The proposed RM53 billion order book from the Government is for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul works for a period of 30 years.
"The proposal for BNS to be given an order book worth RM53 billion for a period of 30 years is irrational,” they said.
They added that Hishammuddin’s announcement on continuing the LCS project on April 20 was not informed to anyone including the PAC, on the details of fund allocation and time limit.