WITH the Government agreeing for Boustead Group to continue with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) project, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) said it is willing to volunteer to keep an eye on it to ensure no financial mismanagement occurs again.
“The revived LCS project must be managed by a new and responsible team. Past mistakes must not repeat. We volunteer to form an expert team to monitor the project- not to interfere, but act as an independent audit team with special authorisation from higher authority.
“We hope the Government grants us this honour. We have, among us, naval and shipbuilding experts with high spirit of altruism.
“Most importantly, it involves public funds and the project cannot fail a second time,” Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan president Brigadier-General (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said, in a statement.
Three days ago, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob said the Cabinet has agreed for Boustead Group to continue with the LCS project, which has been delayed since 2019, with strict conditions attached.
He said the continuation of the project would save 1,600 jobs, comprising of more than 400 vendors involving Bumiputera small and medium enterprises (SME).
“If the construction of this LCS is not continued, it will have a negative impact on the workers and the Bumiputera vendors involved,” Bernama reported Ismail Sabri as saying.
The project, worth RM9.128 bil, was awarded to one of Boustead’s subsidiaries, Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) by the Defence Ministry (Mindef) in 2011, and the order was for six LCSs to be constructed for the Royal Malaysian Navy.
To date, not a single LCS has been delivered although the contract agreement, signed in January 2014, stipulates that the first vessel was due to be handed over to the Government in April 2019.
It was reported that the Government had already paid the company RM6 bil.
Reveal MACC’s findings
Viewing the minister’s decision with scepticism, Arshad said that announcing the continuation of the LCS project without giving details was a half-baked decision.
“Tell us about the funds – amount, source, and how many ships are to be delivered. Will there be any new party involved, besides Boustead Group?
“In 2019 and 2020, the shares of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC) were cornered and artificially suppressed, while Urusharta Jemaah was dumping BHIC shares in the open market.
“Will those who cornered BHIC shares be part of the new management team?” the army veteran asked.
Arshad added that if the project is well managed, it has potential to create a positive spin on the economy.
“Otherwise, committing more funds using the same incompetent project and management team is digging a deeper hole for self-burial,” he stressed.
On that note, Arshard urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to announce its findings on the investigation to the LCS project.
He added that from RM 6 bil disbursed by the Government, RM1 bil is yet to be accounted for.
“If the funds disbursed did not reach the contractor, where did it go? The Prime Minister, Finance and Defence Ministers must answer this question.
“Truth be told, from the perspective of a military operation, this has been a total screw up of the highest order.
“Those in Putrajaya, Mindef, Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), Boustead Holdings, BHIC and BNS must take responsibility,” Arshad stated. – May 11, 2021.