KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang criticised Umno's top leaders for their seeming lack of concern about accountability in the RM9 billion littoral combatant ship (LCS) scandal, compared to the racket they raised about Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conviction appeal.
The Iskandar Puteri MP said that their lack of concern was particularly jarring given the declassification of the Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) report that named current Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as being solely responsible for the purchase of the six vessels for RM9 billion.
“Were there ‘hidden hands’ behind Zahid and who are these ‘hidden hands’?” Lim asked.
He noted that Zahid had just yesterday complained that the Federal Court’s decision to reject Najib’s application to adduce fresh evidence in his SRC International appeal was “eroding the integrity of the judiciary”, but has been completely silent about the JKSTUPKK report that exposed his primary role in the LCS scandal.
“Can Zahid explain his silence on his primary role in the RM9 billion LCS scandal, which had exposed his earlier constant denials that he was to be blamed for the RM9 billion LCS scandal as lies?” he asked.
The JKSTUPKK report disclosed that Zahid, as defence minister in 2011, had sided with the contractor, Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) instead of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), the end-user for the six LCS ordered by the government.
Lim said Zahid owes the public an explanation on why he ignored the RMN’s recommendation for Sigma LCS and instead unilaterally chose to go with the Gowind LCS.
The JKSTUPKK report also contained remarks from the then RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar, who described the government procurement of naval assets based on the contractor’s choice instead of the navy’s say-so as unprecedented.
Lim also asked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to explain why it has yet to charge anyone directly for the RM9 billion LCS scandal.
He noted that the three charges against former Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor last Monday were unrelated to the issue as they pre-dated the December 16, 2011 Letter of Award for the LCS procurement.
He also took to task Defence Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein for still keeping quiet about his ministry’s decision to halve the number of LCS that must be completed and delivered to the RMN by the contractor with no additional government funds.
“When Hishammuddin appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on 25th January 2022, he spoke about ‘corporate restructuring’ of the RM9 billion LCS contract and that the contractor, BNS, will have to deliver two LCS without any new cost to the government.
“But an even more important question is whether the contractor BNS has agreed to complete the first littoral combatant ship (LCS 1) without involving new government allocations,” Lim said.
He demanded the ministers show accountability by answering questions publicly put to them concerning public procurement and finances.