Lcs Fiasco Najib Should Read Pac S Report Properly Committee Chief Says
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chief Wong Kah Woh today gave former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak a tongue-in-cheek guide on the committee's report on the littoral combat ships’ (LCS) procurement fiasco.
Wong believed Najib - whom he referred to as PM6 (6th prime minister) - did not read the report properly, leading to several issues with the latter's response to the matter.
The LCS project is an RM9 billion contract to procure six LCS ships for the navy, which was initiated in 2011, but with zero results up till today.
The PAC in its report detailed a laundry list of questionable decisions and financial improprieties, including the government ignoring the navy's views in choosing the design of the ships.
One of the first issues Wong tried to guide Najib through was on the project's cost.
Najib, in one of his postings on the PAC report yesterday, said there appeared to be a misunderstanding that the project initially cost RM6 billion and that another RM3 billion had been misappropriated.
The former prime minister clarified that the project cost RM9 billion from the start.
Wong was puzzled by this remark and pointed out that the report clearly stated the project cost RM9.128 billion.
"I don't understand what PM6 misunderstood. Maybe PM6 misunderstood what he misunderstood. Maybe PM6 did not read the full PAC report," he said.
Public Accounts Committee chief Wong Kah WohHe added that mentions of the project's cost could easily be found by using the search function on the digital copy of the report.
As of 2020, the government had paid RM6 billion to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd - the project's main contractor.
In a separate post, Najib had attempted to clarify that the first ship was supposed to be delivered in 2019, and not in 2017.
Again, Wong was puzzled by Najib's clarification.
"PM6 is right, (the first ship was supposed to be delivered) in 2019. The PAC chief also said 2019. So where did PM6 hear that the PAC chief said 2017?" he said, referring to himself in the third person.
He said an infographic on the first page of the PAC report stated that the first LCS was supposed to be delivered in April 2019.
Boustead did not meet the 2019 delivery date, and as of writing, none of the LCS ships the government ordered is completed.
On Najib saying he was not involved in the LCS project as prime minister, the PAC chief asked why then the latter did not respond to protest letters from then navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar.
Abdul Aziz was against a decision by the Defence Ministry to choose a different design for the LCS from what the navy had originally agreed to. He had written 10 protest letters on the matter, including two to Najib which went unanswered.
Meanwhile, Wong also reiterated to Najib that the PAC was an independent body, and not a DAP-run outfit as he believed Najib appeared to imply.
He said the PAC has 14 members, of which eight are government MPs, including three from Umno.
"Fourteen MPs from different parties, we are united. United to ensure public funds are safeguarded. Any decision is by consensus.
"We are independent, unlike under PM6's government when the (committee's) 1MDB report was edited by the PAC chief appointed by PM6," he said in a statement today.
Wong was referring to former PAC chief Hasan Arifin unilaterally deciding to delete Bank Negara's assertion that Good Star Ltd - a company that 1MDB funds had been diverted to - was owned by fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.
He added that his official statements on the LCS issue are based on the report's findings, summaries, and recommendations - which the PAC agreed on after two years of investigations and were not his personal opinions.
He also corrected Najib for misattributing him as the DAP Youth chief, a position he has not held since 2018 and has had two successors. Wong is a DAP central executive committee member.
Besides the issues Wong addressed, Najib has also questioned why the project had slowed down after BN was ousted in 2018.
Construction on the first LCS (LCS1) began at the tail end of 2014, and by the time a launching ceremony was held in August 2017 - the ship was around 44 percent complete.
In October 2019 - then defence minister Mohamad Sabu said LCS1 was 55.7 percent complete.
Najib saw this as the ship's construction slowing down significantly.
He also wanted the PAC to determine LCS1's completion rate when Pakatan Harapan took over in May 2018.
The Harapan government had set up a committee to audit the LCS project, but Mohamad denied that the administration was responsible for any delays in completing the ships. - Mkini
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