Zahid Says SLEP To Reduce Defence Spending, Slams Pua

(Bernama) LUMUT – The Service Life Extension Programme or SLEP for Royal Malaysian Navy ships is expected to reduce defence spending sharply.

Defence Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that SLEP – which was for refurbishing ships of 30 years old and above and equipping them with  sophisticated armament and other systems — could save the government a lot of money.

“The programme can reduce spending by up to 75 per cent if we do not have to buy new ships to replace existing assets,” he told reporters here yesterday after observing refurbishing work on KD Kasturi.

SLEP was being carried out by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd, whose bid was 50 per cent lower than the next lowest, he said.

For a start, Ahmad Zahid said, two ships – KD Kasturi and KD Lekir – were being refurbished at a cost of about RM695 million.
“What makes us so proud about this programme is that it is using up to 99.5 per cent local expertise and the level of local expertise and quality of service are on par with what is offered at foreign shipyards,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid also criticised DAP MP for Petaling Jaya Utara Tony Pua for alleging that the government was paying much more for six littoral combat ships than such vessels normally cost.

“He made the allegations as though he is a defence expert and knows a lot, actually he is just twisting the facts,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said that all the allegations that Pua made “will be answered in full” at the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.