Not long ago, a huge procurement contract for the purchase of military tanks (Armoured Fighting Vehicles) was given to DRB Hicom (read: Syed Mokhtar) for almost RM9 billion. It is not that DRB Hicom have the knowledge or expertise on how to build such vehicles, but that is not a problem in this country if you are close to those in power.
I have been told that there is a mark up of about RM700 million from that exercise. In other words, that’s the additional cost the tax payers will have to unnecessarily pay for these equipments. The Minister of Defence will of course not divulge details of such a contract, as these details will be conveniently categorized as official secrets. Besides the financial issue, we have reason to believe that for the actual technology purchased, it is not money well spent. It is probably some old technology from Turkey.
Now we have a new blockbuster: it's called the Patrol Vessels contract. The infamous French company, DCNS, the same company that supplied us those famous Scorpene submarines (under the contract which some parties made RM500 million, of which coincided with Altantuya's tragic death) is here again to partner up with Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd ("BNS") to build these patrol vessels.
Further to that, DCNS will build these patrol vessels in Perak this time (afterall, our Minister of Defence hails from Perak). Unsurprisingly, BNS have no idea how to build these patrol vessels, nor do they know what electronic and fighting equipments these vessels should be equipped with. BNS will not listen to advice of the Navy either. DCNS will decide and dictate everything, including the price of about RM10 billion (usually, they will announce a lower figure but these costs usually escalate further on various grounds: new additional requirements etc). The same old modus operandi.
Our Opposition politicians need not just focus their attention towards rallying the streets and peaceful protests. They must also get together to unearth such scandalous contracts that have been dished out, as I have described above. We must not allow our country and our own security to be in jeopardy. And it is not just about the money and the frivolous spending. Our military forces, the navy and the airforce must be responsible for the decisions on the types of military hardware and software that we procure. Our army, navy and airforce chiefs must be the judge of what we need and the appropriate price we should be paying for these purchases, not the politicians. These men, not the politicians, are the ones who are aware of what our country’s defence requires.
I am not hopeful that this piece of information will be acted upon by those responsible in running the country. But there is no harm in trying.