Pakatan govt had ordered probe into delay

PETALING JAYA: The littoral combat ship (LCS) project was already behind schedule since 2016, and Pakatan Harapan, upon taking over the government, ordered a probe into the delay. Former Pakatan defence minister Mohamad Sabu and his then deputy Liew Chin Tong, in a joint statement yesterday, said a detailed design for the LCS, which was scheduled for completion in November 2016, had yet to be finalised to date.

“The Pakatan Harapan government had made the decision on the direction of the project in February 2020 based on the proposal of the Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPPK), but the government collapsed that very month,” they said.

As of January 2020, the project progress had only reached 56.39% with a variance of -26.02%, compared with the projection of 82.41%.

“Until today, the detailed design has not been completed,” they said, while providing a timeline of progress since 2016.

“It is clear that Najib (former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak) is trying to mislead the people and blame the Pakatan government when it was him and (former defence minister) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who were responsible for the project’s failure, by approving it without proper negotiations with experts,” they said.

They were responding to Najib’s Facebook post where he questioned the lack of progress in the project during Pakatan’s administration.

Najib had questioned why the progress had only been around 5% in the 17 months until September 2019, when it was put on hold for review by Pakatan. The Pekan MP said the project had reached 50% completion in 40 months since it began in January 2015.

“Why did the progress levels (of the LCS project) only increase by 5% to 55% in 17 months from September 2019, when the project was frozen by the Pakatan government?” he questioned.

He asked if the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Defence Ministry could confirm his comments.In the joint statement, it was noted that Mohamad had called for the special investigation committee to probe the project in his first Cabinet meeting, which took place within less than two weeks after he was sworn into office in 2018.

“The Pakatan Harapan government had tried its best to save the LCS project,” the two leaders added.

The committee led by former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang had tabled a report on the investigation to the Defence Ministry on Aug 20, 2019, they said, adding that ministry’s officials, the Royal Malaysian Navy and the contractors had tried to find a solution to the issue.

The duo, along with Ambrin, top ministry officials, Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Affendi Buang and Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Reza Mohd Sany had briefed then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the matter.

Chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, who was the former secretary-general of the Defence Ministry, had also attended the session on Feb 11, 2020.

“The former prime minister (Dr Mahathir) had decided in the meeting that those who had committed the wrongdoing must be brought to justice,” they said, adding that this also led to the restructuring in the Boustead Naval Shipyard top management.

“The LCS project was seen as a sick project which needed fresh funds to be pumped in to replace the money that was swindled.”

Mohamad and Liew said the ministry was slated to table a working paper to the Cabinet, but that did not materialise following the Sheraton Move, which led to the downfall of the Pakatan government.

None of the ships have been completed so far, although five should have been delivered by this month, the PAC revealed in Parliament.

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