KUALA LUMPUR: The two lawyers who are involved in a legal suit in France over the controversial purchase of French Scorpene submarines are hoping for the Malaysian government to step up its efforts in assisting their legal case, says Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.
The duo - William Bourdon and his colleague Apoline Cagnat - who were engaged by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), was also previously present in Malaysia from Feb 10 to Feb 12 to meet with Attorney General Tommy Thomas.
"I don't think I'm in a position to disclose details of the discussion. Yes they came and they are hoping that Malaysia will do more in order to facilitate the cases in France. They are looking at the cases in the French court," he said.
Liew was speaking to reporters when met at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (March 12).
According to Liew, the Scorpene scandal no longer falls under the purview of the Defence Ministry.
"The case of Scorpene is now being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). So, it's no longer within the purview of the Defence Ministry. It is now handled by MACC," he said.
Last June, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu was quoted as saying that the Cabinet will be discussing the proposal to set up a special task force to be formed to investigate graft allegations over the submarine deal in 2002.
Last July, French ambassador to Malaysia Frédéric Laplanche was quoted as saying that the cooperation between the French and Malaysia authorities over the submarine deal is "very good".
Meanwhile, Liew said that a white paper on defence is in the works and the ministry is now consulting various stakeholders over the matter.
"Hopefully that white paper will be a long-term foundational document on the way we should conduct defence and national security into the future."
Liew is hoping for the white paper on defence to be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.
"This will be the first time in history that a defence policy is being tabled and debated in Parliament.
"What we want to inculcate is this whole idea of total defence, so the ministry understand what challenges we are facing and we have a national consensus on how to beef up defence and how to secure the nation in general," he said.
"I think defence is not just about the Defence Ministry. But, defence is a collective responsibility of the people," he added.
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