PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the fiasco in the procurement of littoral combat ships (LCS) should not be pinned on him as he was not the defence minister when the project was awarded.
The Umno president added that anyone involved in the issue should provide explanations to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
"I held the position as defence minister from April 2009 to May 2013. So any party that caused the construction delay should be responsible for providing an explanation to the PAC.
"(It is to) fully support the disclosure of this delay," he said, according to Umno online on Saturday (Aug 6).
The former deputy prime minister further explained that the company responsible for building the ships was Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Boustead Holdings Bhd, whose largest shareholder was Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT).
"Referring to the audit report from PAC, the contract to Boustead is in accordance with the Direct Negotiation Procurement Application Guidelines dated April 17, 2002.
"Clearly it has nothing to do with me, in fact, LTAT itself is the largest shareholder in the LCS construction company," Ahmad Zahid said.
The Bagan Datuk MP also said that he was ready to give evidence or explanation to the PAC to complete the proceedings in the near future.
It was previously reported that RM1.4bil worth of government funds intended for the multibillion-ringgit LCS project signed in 2014 was diverted for other purposes.
So far, not even one of the ships is completed, although five should have been delivered by this month, PAC revealed in Parliament.
Another RM255mil worth of LCS equipment, or 15% of the RM1.7bil worth, which was kept in store for the project, is now obsolete.
These were among the findings contained in the bipartisan committee’s 250-page report that was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Aug 4.
Of the RM1.4bil, RM400mil was used to repay previous debts incurred under the New Generation Patrol Vessel (NGPV) project, RM305mil was used for an integration facility in Cyberjaya, and another RM700mil was a cost overrun that exceeded the LCS contract ceiling.
On Thursday (Aug 4), PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said Ahmad Zahid would be called by the committee early next month, to testify.
Former commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar and the main contractor of the LCS ship project BNS were also among those called for the proceedings.