KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang today demanded Datuk Seri Najib Razak accept responsibility for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) scandal instead of trying to put the blame on others.
The Iskandar Puteri MP said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration cannot be involved in the LCS scandal seeing that the conception, negotiation and signing of the LCS contract all took place during Najib's time as prime minister.
"Najib has attempted to link Mahathir to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) being forced to use part of the funding for the LCS to pay off NGPV’s bad debts," he said referring to the New Generation Patrol Vessel (NGPV) project, which was conceptualised in 1990, when Najib was defence minister in Cabinet.
Lim explained that after the Royal Malaysian Navy first planned to acquire 27 new ships in 1990, and receiving approval in principle from the government in 1993, the proposed construction and acquisition of the NGPVs were included in the privatisation agreement of Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd (NDSB) between the Malaysian government and Penang Shipbuilding and Construction Sdn Bhd (PSC) in order to form a consortium called PSC-NDSB.
He said when the project failed, Boustead Holdings Berhad took over from PSC-NDSB in 2005 and renamed it BNS in the following year.
"Sabu and Liew have rightly pointed out that Najib cannot disclaim responsibility for the Royal Malaysian Navy scandal, the NGPV project.
"Najib was deeply involved in the NGPV project, being the defence minister from 1990 to 1995 as well as from 2000 to 2008," he said, referring to Mohamad Sabu and Liew Chin Tong, who were defence minister and deputy during the PH administration.
He then questioned the amount of Najib's responsibility in the NGPV and LCS scandals, and should instead just come clean and face the consequences of his alleged actions.
"Instead of accepting responsibility for the NGPV and LCS scandals, Najib is trying to divert attention from himself by pointing to the past and to the future — blaming the fourth prime minister who resigned in 2003 and the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government from May 2018 to February 020," he said.
On August 10, Najib had accused the Defence Ministry during the PH administration of purportedly "freezing” the LCS project for 15 months since September 2019 for investigations.
Mat Sabu and Liew responded and said Najib’s claim was "a lie” as the project did not proceed due to Boustead Naval Shipyard’s debts.
The next day, Najib then asserted that BNS had to bail out the construction of the 27 NGPCs by buying a majority stake in the PSC-NDSB company in 2005 in order to save the "sinking ship" project that was approved during Mahathir's time as prime minister.
Lim also previously noted concerns of "hidden hands” behind the delay of the construction of the military asset and blamed former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for it.
"Now I understand why Najib had been so active on his Facebook in the past week to defend the RM9 billion LCS scandal and even to blame the Pakatan Harapan for the scandal,” Lim said.
The LCS scandal came to light last Thursday when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented its report on the project in Parliament.
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 the NGPV project.
The LCS project is the largest procurement in the history of Mindef with a total cost of RM9 billion.