April 15, 2021

Patriot: Something fishy in speedy conclusion of Mindef's chopper purchase

2 min read

PETALING JAYA: The procurement of six helicopters costing more than RM300mil by the Defence Ministry (Mindef) in 2016 was flawed from the start and the speedy conclusion is suspicious, alleges the National Patriots Association (Patriot).

Patriot president Brig-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji (pic) said that there were serious irregularities in the procurement of these specialised helicopters, and he urged “stern action” against those involved.

“Since the contract was sealed by the previous government, it is imperative for the previous defence minister and all officials associated with the procurement to assume responsibility for this dereliction of duty.

“Action must be taken against wrongdoers, no matter how high their positions are, including those who have retired from the civil service and from the military, ” said Mohamed Arshad.

He also called out former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for “his audacity” in asking how Mindef planned to spend its budget allocation as the helicopter fiasco happened under his watch.

“Hishammuddin has so far not spoken a word. Instead, he had the audacity to ask how the defence ministry planned to spend the RM15.6bil from Budget 2020.

“It is baffling that there was a speedy conclusion of the contract for such an important defence procurement – in just 18 months, with full delivery expected in less than two years.

“It would appear that this was an off-the-shelf-procurement where the six helicopters were all lined up to be sold.

“This procurement was flawed from the outset.

“What actually happened to these undelivered helicopters when the deal was made during the previous administration?

“Was there truly a need for the Army to procure the helicopters in view of the logistics support required to maintain it?

“Why was there a seemingly hurried arrangement to conclude the contract? Why was there a need to appoint an agent, when the procurement could have been done by the government itself?

“The agent failed in his responsibility to see the contract through. Has the commission been paid to the agent?” said Mohamed Arshad in a statement on Nov 2.

Mindef lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in June over the purchase of six McDonnell Douglas MD530 lightweight combat helicopters.

The six helicopters that were meant for the army cost more than RM300mil and to date, RM113mil has been paid.

The contract, signed in November 2016 following a demonstration during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima) in 2015, stated the helicopters would be delivered in two batches: in July 2017 and December 2018.

The purchase was allegedly through an appointed agency that was close to a very senior official of the ministry then, and the process allegedly did not go through due diligence as is expected in procurement of national military assets.

It was also reported that the original price quoted was US$60mil, but after three months the price was inflated to US$70mil.

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