30th November 2020
URGENT NEED TO MOVE ON WITH LCS PROJECT
It has been reported that Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd (BHIC) has lodged a report with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the possible irregularities in the RM9 billion littoral combat ship (LCS) project. The findings of the forensic audit that started in February were handed to the MACC in September.
No stones must be left unturned and actions taken if there are transgressions against the law involving corrupt practices and criminal neglect. Within the LTAT and the Boustead Group, internal disciplinary action must also be taken for any dereliction of duties, incompetency, and gross negligence against any board member, director, and those at managerial levels.
Patriot views seriously the involvement of several personnel in the LCS project were from the military. Had it been a totally military project, such fiasco as in the non-delivery of the LCS ship after RM6 billion spent would have seen swift action taken long ago with the culprits being court martialed. There is a need to re-establish integrity within the Boustead group of companies and to emplace competent and honourable people to drive the various defence businesses and the LCS project.
There is also an urgency to establish whether the unaccounted RM1 billion out of the RM5.9 billion LCS disbursements ever reached BHIC or its subsidiary – Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), the contractor of the project. If it did, then boards member and directors of BHIC involved must be charged for criminal breach of trust and fraud.
If BHIC or BNS did not receive the RM 1 billion, then those in Mindef and in Putrajaya must be made accountable and culprits severely dealt with to face the full penalty of the law, irrespective how high a position one holds.
While investigation and criminal liability process is in progress, the LCS project must proceed because of its significance for national security as well as economic necessity. As a maritime nation we are in dire need to defend our vast seas. The recent standoff between our patrol craft and China’s Coast Guard is a case in point. The LCS should be a useful addition to our naval fleet.
Furthermore, we also need useful and meaningful projects to propel our economy especially during this economic slowdown. Whether it is RM3 billion or more to complete the LCS project, the money spent is worthwhile. It will have economic multiplier effect and helpful to the hundreds of local vendors supporting ship building.
The problem with the stalled LCS project is with the then defence minister and Putrajaya not giving the green light for the variation orders and the extension of time requested by BHIS and BNS. Urgent action must be taken now to complete the LCS project.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan