The bills kept flowing in

Controversial project: One of the littoral combat ships under construction at the Boustead Naval Shipyard in Lumut.

Stories by WONG CHUN WAI from the Public Accounts Committee report on the LCS project

PETALING JAYA: A huge amount of money meant for the uncompleted RM9bil six littoral combat ships (LCS) project was used to buy spare parts, including even TV sets, a special panel headed by former auditor-general Tan Sri Amrin Buang has revealed.

Fellow panel member Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh also pointed out that the contract was drawn up in such a way that any activity or movement was considered progress and the government just had to pay.

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“I think the point to note is that a lot of money was spent on buying spare parts when the ships were not ready,” said Ambrin.

“I think they are in the position to know exactly what they should be paying? When exactly should they make the purchase?

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“So, if ada elemen-elemen yang tidak sihat, beli dulu you know, dalam keadaan apa sekali pun dan dapatkan duit itu cepat-cepat. (So, if there are unhealthy elements, buy first, you know, in whatever situation and get the money quickly).

“That is a different story-lah,’’ Ambrin said in his testimony to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

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Ambrin had headed the Special Committee on Governance Investigation, Government Procurement and Finance’s report on the LCS project.

Dr Mohd Tap said the committee wanted to show to the PAC “that money was simply spent”.“Just to show you or to demonstrate to you, how crazy it was. They just buy because the money is there or the contract was there. So, we must pay. Activity means you buy anything or you move something, you have to pay,” he said.

Dr Mohd Tap described the LCS project as contractor-driven in the sense that the views of the end user – the Navy – was not taken seriously in terms of its needs.

“That is why the change from Sigma (class) to Gowind (class) was done within a few days and the negotiation of the pricing was also done within a few days, which is not possible.

“Unless there are hidden hands involved in this, I think the biggest issue that JKS (the committee) has faced all this while the end user – the military – was never very high on the agenda,” he said.

The Navy had wanted the Sigma design of the LCS by a Dutch firm and the combat management system (CMS) from France but following intense lobbying, Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS), a unit of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC), opted for the Gowind design and SETIS-CMS from France.

Former Royal Malaysian Navy chief admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar had told PAC that Gowind was not a proven design while Sigma was already operational in Indonesia, Morocco and in a few other countries.

(Dr Mohd Tap, who was the Malaysia Integrity Institute president, died on Nov 30, 2021, at the age of 72. According to PAC members, he was very vocal in the meetings to investigate the LCS issue.)

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