PM Ismail Sabri says won’t make the same mistake with LCS scandal after 1MDB brought down BN in 2018

(MMO) – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has stressed that it is important to handle the littoral combat ship (LCS) scandal properly and transparently, or his administration may face the same fate as Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s due to the 1MDB scandal.

The Bera MP said that the previous government had failed to explain “the truth” behind the 1MDB scandal to voters ahead of Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the 2018 election, adding that he would not make the same mistake with the LCS issue.

“It is important for me and the Cabinet that we talk and explain to the people about the issue, as it is important. The failure of the previous government when the 1MDB issue arose was that it failed to explain the truth to the people.

“That is why the people ended up speculating on what really happened, and making their own conclusions, even if what they were expecting didn’t happen or wasn’t as expected. Because they did not explain it properly, the issue got big,” he said in a recent interview with local media.

He explained that that is why he instructed Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to invite the press to view the construction of the LCSs in Lumut, Perak

“That is why I asked the defence minister to invite the media, chief editors, and explain to them what is really happening so they can spread the correct news. If we didn’t, they too wouldn’t know.

“I know [what’s happening] because I was the former defence minister. But our friends in Cabinet who aren’t the defence minister, they wouldn’t be privy to this information. And if they don’t know the full story, they cannot explain the matter,” he said.

He also said that the LCS scandal will be used by the Opposition to railroad the government, just as they did with the 1MDB scandal.

He said it would be hard to ignore the Opposition voices because they are not protesting on the grounds that someone should pay the price, but the integrity of government servants in office.

“That’s why I said this issue will be difficult to water down, because the issues the Opposition brings up is on integrity, not on who is arrested or remanded.

“Every night there is a TikTok from the other side, so it’s difficult,” he said.

The LCS project had come under public scrutiny after the PAC released its report, revealing that the government had paid RM6.083 billion for six vessels since 2013 but no ship has been delivered. The first custom-built ship was supposed to arrive in 2019.

The PAC report also raised the contention that the government ignored the navy’s design requirements and instead followed recommendations by the contractor to use a different design.

In light of the revelation, Ismail Sabri on August 10 said the Cabinet has agreed to declassify the 2019 LCS forensic audit report and for those responsible to be prosecuted if there was evidence of wrongdoing.

However, he said both moves were subject to the review of the attorney-general and auditor-general.