KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Security veterans’ group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) today said it is important for Malaysia to continue with the littoral combat ship (LCS) project despite the controversies surrounding it.
Patriot president Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said that the six vessels were sorely needed to boost Malaysia’s defences against naval threats.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Arshad also said the RM9 billion project undertaken with Malaysian shipbuilder Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd (BHIC) and its subsidiaries could serve to bolster the nation’s economy.
“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 an economic multiplier effect and be 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 Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIS) and Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS). Urgent action must be taken now to complete the LCS project,” he said.
However, Arshad said “no stones must be left unturned” during investigations regarding the misappropriation of the funds involved in the project.
He also called for the action to be taken against those responsible, whether it be BHIC or the Ministry of Defence.
“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,” he said.
It was previously reported that payment of RM5.94 billion had been made to Bolstead for the project that was commissioned in 2014, and the first ship in the fleet was to be delivered in April 2019.
However, none has been built to date.
In September, former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong revealed that RM1 billion of the money paid for the ships could not be traced.
He called in the Dewan Rakyat then for an investigation into the matter.
Last month, Patriot criticised the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) — which owns a 10.36 stake of BNS — and Boustead Holdings for its silence over the issue.
Then, last Saturday, after completing a forensic audit, BHIC lodged a report with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over possible irregularities in the project.
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