Lim Kit Siang slams Umno for silence on the LCS fiasco

(Focus Malaysia) – Veteran lawmaker Lim Kit Siang has lambasted UMNO for being “completely unconcerned” about the RM9 bil littoral combat ship (LCS) scandal which had transformed a “dream project” into a “national nightmare”.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said that UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders’ unconcern for the LCS scandal became particularly more acute and jarring following the Government’s decision to declassify the Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance’s (JKSTUPKK) report on the procurement of the six vessels.

“The report revealed that UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was solely responsible for the LCS scandal unless there were ‘hidden hands’ behind him,” Lim remarked.

“Zahid yesterday issued a statement saying that the Federal Court’s decision to reject former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to adduce fresh evidence in his SRC International appeal could ‘erode the integrity of the judiciary’ but yet he was completely silent about the JKSTUPKK report which exposed his primary role in the LCS scandal.

“Can Zahid explain his silence on his role in this matter which had exposed his earlier denial as lies?”

The UMNO president had previously said it was unreasonable to pin the failure of the LCS procurement on him as he claimed he was not the defence minister when the project was awarded.

“Sila laksanakan”

The declassified report of a probe on the LCS project has torn apart Zahid’s denial of involvement in its procurement.

The proof came in the form of a letter sent by BNS on July 8, 2010, to Zahid – who was the defence minister – asking for a letter of intent (LOI) on the LCS project.

Then-BNS managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor said in the letter that the company had been planning the LCS project for two years.

However, Ramli said they now needed an LOI to convince original equipment manufacturers (OEM) that the project has the government’s mandate and consent.

Acting on the BNS letter, Zahid jotted on the top right corner of the letter, “SUB Perolehan, sila laksanakan” (Procurement division secretary, please get it done).

From his observation on this matter, Lim said the three charges against Ramli had nothing to do with the LCS scandal.

The former navy chief has been accused of fraudulently approving three payments amounting to RM21.08 mil to three different firms without the approval of the BNS board.

Ramli, 78, was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years, whipping and a fine if found guilty.

“All three charges against Ramli were before the issuing of the LOI for the LCS procurement which was only issued only on Dec 16, 2011,” Lim noted.

As the three charges against Ramli pre-date the issue of LOI for the LCS procurement, can the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) explain why after 10 years it had failed to charge anyone for the LCS scandal?”

“More importantly, can MACC reveal how many people will be charged for the scandal?”

Lim went on to point out that Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had failed to answer his query on why the Defence Ministry (MINDEF) had reduced the number of vessels which must be completed and delivered by the contractor with no additional government funds before Putrajaya moves on with the LCS project.

Hishammuddin said on Wednesday (Aug 17) that ongoing construction of the first littoral combat ship (LCS 1) will not involve new allocations from the government.

At the same time, Hishammuddin said additional allocations for BNS to complete the remaining five LCS will only be considered after completion of LCS 1 in reportedly another two years, despite an initial targeted date in 2019.

“When Hishammuddin appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on Jan 25, 2022 he spoke about “corporate restructuring” of the RM9 bil LCS contract and that the contractor, BNS, will have to deliver two LCS without any new cost to the government,” Lim recalled.

“But an even more important question is whether BNS has agreed to complete LCS 1 without involving new government allocations!

“Hishammuddin should realise that in the information era, the practice where ministers and political leaders can go into hiding and ignore questions is over. They must answer questions publicly put to them.”