Let Parliament vet defence deals above RM100m, says MP

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Star (18/10/08): Parliament should play a role in scrutinising how the RM2.3bil Eurocopter deal was awarded and be consulted on all future procurements above RM100mil.

“It’s high time that defence procurement be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny in order to ensure accountability in the process,” said Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong

He said he had submitted a motion to the Dewan Rakyat during the previous and current sittings, calling for deals which involve a contractual value of RM100mil and above to be subject to parliamentary and Auditor-General scrutiny.

Liew said the Government usually justifies the secrecy involving defence procurement in the name of national strategic interest.

“However, as the sum of the contracts are huge, it is apt for Parliament to play a role here,” he said in a statement.

He said that according to a World Bank study, 15% of the value of defence procurements worldwide goes into some form of corruption as it is one of the most secretive trade on earth.

“Even advance democracies with independent media and stronger parliamentary scrutiny are susceptible to corruption in this sector due to its unique nature.

“It is not difficult to imagine the situation in countries with weaker mechanism of scrutiny,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mentari Services Sdn Bhd chairman Capt (Rtd) Zahar Hashim alleged that the tender made during Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s tenure as Defence Minister to replace the aging Nuri helicopters had been too costly.

He claimed the Government could have saved almost RM1.5bil if it had bought the Kazan-M172 helicopters from Kelowna Flight­craft Ltd, the firm he represents, instead of buying Cougar EC-725s from the German-French firm Eurocopter.

He said the Kazan-M172 met all the specifications required by the armed forces and cost RM898mil while the Cougar units cost the Government RM2.317bil.

Najib had said that he would explain the matter in full in Parliament.


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