KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the Defence Ministry (Mindef) supported the Cabinet’s proposal to declassify the 2019 littoral combat ship (LCS) forensic audit report and welcomed a thorough investigation of the military spending scandal.
In a statement today, the senior minister also said Mindef would cooperate fully with any and all investigations into the RM9 billion project.
“Mindef and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that this issue is resolved and give full cooperation to all the authorities conducting investigations, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC); the Public Accounts Committee (PAC); the Governance, Procurement and Government Finance Inquiry Committee, as well as the forensic auditor.
“Myself, and the leadership at Mindef have nothing to hide, we just want this matter to be resolved and continued in the interest of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), for the sake of money spent, and in the interests of the country,” he said.
Hishammuddin also stressed that the Cabinet’s proposal to declassify the forensic auditing report would not affect with RMN’s requirement for the LCS.
He also reiterated that any wrongdoing uncovered must be punished.
The minister went on to say that the ministry was actively negotiating with original equipment manufacturers, vendors and banks to ensure the LCS project reaches completion.
“It is important for all stakeholders to remain focused on continuing the LCS project, in order to ensure that RMN can have the LCS they desperately need as soon as possible,” he said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the Cabinet has proposed declassifying the 2019 LCS forensic auditing report pending a review by the attorney general and auditor-general.
He said that the Cabinet also urged the MACC to hasten investigations into the issue and for criminal prosecution to be undertaken if conclusive evidence of abuse were to be uncovered.
Last Thursday, PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh revealed that cost overruns of the LCS project have reached RM1.4 billion, including RM400 million used to pay old debts from an old patrol vessel project.
Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) previously likened the brewing LCS scandal to 1MDB and said the Malaysian government has now developed a reputation for misappropriating taxpayer monies.
The LCS project is the largest procurement in the history of Mindef with a total cost of RM9 billion.
The said contract began in 2013 with a ten-year time frame and six LCS ships were expected to be built and delivered to the country by the end of 2023.
Hishammuddin told the Dewan Negara yesterday that the first of the LCS purchased from Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) should be ready no later than two years from now.