LCS scandal: PAC report confirms long-standing issues previously raised – Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad

Then special investigation committee chairman Tan Sri Ambrin Buang notes lack of ‘stewardship’, as if ‘buying a toy’

(The Vibes) – I WELCOME the release of the Dewan Rakyat’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the RM9 billion littoral combat ship (LCS) saga. The project, in effect, was one of the largest defence procurements for new equipment undertaken in Malaysia’s history.

There has been justifiable outrage over the PAC report’s findings, including that the government has already spent at least RM6.083 billion on the directly negotiated contract, despite the fact that not even one of the five LCS that had been ordered has been finished and delivered by the company selected to implement it, which is Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS).

The PAC’s report mirrors – and vindicates – the issues regarding the LCS project that had earlier been raised by the Dewan Rakyat’s Special Select Committee On Defence and Home Affairs that I had chaired from December 2019 until December 2020.

I had, in fact, initiated an inquiry into the project given the long delays that had been plaguing it.

The Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) had highlighted to us the various problems and abuses that had plagued the project, which the PAC has now confirmed.

The current report has also outlined a number of other anomalies I had likewise previously raised, most notably that the views of the Royal Malaysian Navy, as the LCS’ end user, were ignored by the Defence Ministry and BNS in the project’s implementation, including over the design of the vessels.

The RMN had agreed to use the Sigma design, but this was overruled by then Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the request of BNS without referring to RMN in 2011. Instead, the Gowind-class design was adopted despite the Navy expressing disappointment at the decision.

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who chaired the JKSTUPKK, told my committee that the-then government approached the project “as if you’re buying a toy, you know, we can wait, relax…So, unless an external force comes in and pushes the thing, they will take their own sweet time. There is a lack of urgency…nobody seems to want to take charge. No stewardship”.

Unfortunately, I was unable to publish my special select committee’s report due to the change of government following the Sheraton Move (in February 2020).