KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — Boustead Naval Shipyard rejects suggestions that construction materials for six littoral combat ships (LCS) it is meant to deliver would be obsolete soon.
Its chief executive Azhar Jumaat was quoted by Berita Harian as saying that the stored materials, valued at RM1.7 billion, are "one hundred per cent usable” with a lifespan of 27 years.
The assertion comes after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in its findings into the probe that has whipped up a national political storm that close to a fifth of these materials are already obsolete.
"I would like to stress that all stored materials are one hundred per cent functional and there is no necessity to buy new ones for replacement,” Azhar was quoted as saying.
The materials that were said to be unusable are actually in the "process of obsolescence”, Azhar added.
"So it’s not right to suggest they are obsolete because that would suggest they’re no longer useful. Obsolescence means we can still use them if they are regularly maintained,” he was quoted as saying.
BNS held a media briefing together with the Defence Ministry at its dockyard in Lumut, Perak yesterday, amid renewed public scrutiny over the project following the PAC’s release of its findings in a report made public on August 4.
The LCS project is the largest acquisition in the Defence Ministry’s history to date, at a total estimated value of RM9 billion.
From the total value, up to RM6 billion has been spent so far yet none of the six vessels have been delivered, one of the highlights of the PAC‘s findings in its investigation report release on August 4.
All six ships should have been delivered this month, based on the contracted schedule. PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh noted that the cost of the project had also ballooned to an excess of RM1.4 billion.
At yesterday’s media briefing, Azhar said the first ship is almost 60 per cent ready. Completion for the remaining five vessels were still at less than half, Azhar told reporters.
The media briefing was ostensibly aimed at debunking critics who have piled pressure against the government with allegations of irregularities in the entire project.
Azhar took aim at detractors who joked that the ships were constructed using wood or "invisible vessels”, and suggested that the media tour proved that the project was alive unlike the allegations that have widely spread on social media.
"These LCSs are not made of wood nor are they invisible vessels.
"They are also not replicas, but real ships,” he was quoted as saying.