New round of talks over LCS issue to be raised in Parliament

PETALING JAYA: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) may propose a new round of proceedings over the controversial littoral combat ships (LCS) issue in the coming parliamentary meeting, says Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

The PAC chairman said the suggestion is for the proceedings to start once the Dewan Rakyat approves the appointment of new PAC members.

For the 15th Parliament, only the chairman and deputy chairman have been determined so far.

“Once the new members have been approved, I will call for the first meeting, with the first item on the agenda being the new proceedings involving the construction of the LCS fleet.

“This will cover the development of the issue from October last year to May,” she said.

The appointment of the other 10 new members of the bipartisan committee is expected to be approved during the second meeting of the second session of the 15th Parliament starting on Monday.

The LCS project – the biggest military procurement costing an estimated RM9bil – came under scrutiny after the PAC report last year revealed that none of the six ships commissioned had been completed.

The government had then forked out RM6.083bil to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) for the project that was signed in 2014, with the expected delivery of the vessels in stages starting 2019.

Mas Ermieyati said the PAC will give a new submission to Parliament once the Defence Ministry has furnished them with the progress reports.

The previous PAC had presented seven recommendations to the LCS procurement report on Aug 4 last year. The Defence Ministry secretary-general replied to the seven recommendations on Oct 5, she noted.

The seventh recommendation by the previous PAC report stated that the ministry must deliver a progress report on the LCS to the committee every three months.

Mas Ermieyati said the PAC is expected to hold its first proceedings at BNS in Lumut, Perak.

“The PAC will also hold a working visit to view the construction progress of the LCS,” she said.

On April 27, Navy chief Admiral Datuk Abdul Rahman Ayob said the construction of LCS is expected to begin three months after the sixth supplemental agreement is concluded with amendments to the timeline and costs.

The Cabinet had on April 19 agreed to continue the LCS project. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan previously said the number of vessels will be cut to five despite the cost remaining at RM9bil.

On Aug 16 last year, BNS’ former managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor was charged with approving payments of RM21.08mil without the agreement of the company’s board of directors in connection with the LCS project. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges of criminal breach of trust.

Meanwhile, in her statement, Mas Ermieyati said she, along with her deputy Wong Shu Qi, paid a courtesy visit on all seven permanent or ex-officio PAC representatives from the Attorney General’s Chambers, Public Service Department, Finance Ministry, National Audit Department, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Economy Ministry and Accountant General’s Department.

“I have explained to all ex-officio members that the new PAC will make several improvements, especially on the secretary-general’s follow-up action to the committee’s recommendations,” she said.

In addition, Mas Ermieyati said the PAC also made a courtesy call on Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul’s office on Tuesday.

“The meeting was held to get his opinion on the direction of PAC as well as improvements that can be made by the current committee,” she said.

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