Kua: France will unlock Scorpene truth

PETALING JAYA: When Kua Kia Soong says he has been concerned about arms spending in Malaysia for “a long time” he means for about four decades.

The years spent in keen observation of the government’s defence spending culminated in 1994 when he blew the whistle on the “Arms-for-Aid scandal.

The fiasco revolved around the funding of the Pergau hydroelectric dam which was linked to RM5 billion in arms sales to British overseas aid in the form of Aid and Trade Provision (ATP) funding.

Kua, who was Petaling Jaya MP for DAP at the time, was disgusted that while the British media pounced on the scandal, its Malaysian counterparts chose to turn a blind eye.

He has since then traded his parlimentarian seat for that of Suaram director but the swap has done nothing to abate his vigilance of the government’s arms spending.

It has instead propelled him into the heart of the country’s most high profile arms deal – the purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France.

The deal is mired in controversy with allegations of kickbacks and linked to the murder of Mongolian national, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

“The Scorpene French provider, DCNS, is well-known to have given commissions in the Karachi case and also in its sale of frigates to Taiwan,” Kua, 60, explained to FMT.

(The Karachi car bomb in May 2002 was reported to be related to a case of retro-commissions and kickbacks involving the Pakistani state and French politicians for an arms deal.)

Suaram’s suspicions arose as it studied the scandals involving DCNS and it began enquiring about the possibility of pursuing the commissions involved in the Scorpene deal.

“We discovered that (French human rights lawyer) William Bourdon was pursuing the cases in the French judicial system so we got in touch with him,” Kua said. “Bourdon responded positively as he had been shadowing the Karachi and Taiwan cases which were linked to DCNS”.

Suaram applied through its French lawyers as a civil party for a judicial review in the French court in November 2009 to investigate the submarine deal. In April 2010, the French courts accepted the request to investigate Suaram’s claim of corruption. The French investigative judge who will hear the case will be picked next month.

Bourdon however was given the boot back to Paris by the Malaysian government during his visit here last month after he spoke at a Scorpene fundraising dinner in Penang. His deportation was decried by various quarters as an attempt by the government to muzzle the truth.

Here are excerpts from the interview with Kua: