PETALING JAYA,Dec 18: The non-delivery of six littoral combat ships (LCS) costing RM9 billion to the navy happened after he had stepped down as defence minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claims.
In a Facebook post, Zahid said the non-delivery issue involving Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) had nohing to do with him as it only occurred in 2019, after he had stepped down from his post as defence minister.
“I would like to emphasise that I had resigned as defence minister in 2013 and did not serve in 2019. Clearly, this issue is beyond my knowledge,” he said.
Zahid previously headed the defence portfolio from April 2009 to May 2013.
He said the issue of multiple payments to Boustead also took place in 2019, and that he had no control over decisions made by the ministry then.
According to Zahid, the contract was awarded to Boustead according to direct negotiation procurement guidelines, which require approval from the finance ministry.
He also pointed out that the defence ministry had issued a letter of demand to Boustead over the late delivery which was currently awaiting approval.
However, he said he was willing to cooperate and assist the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in completing its investigations into the delay in the delivery.
The PAC has announced that it will complete investigations and present a report by the next Parliament meeting in March. Its chairman Wong Kah Woh said proceedings would resume in January and several additional witnesses, including Zahid, would be called.
The LCS project, worth more than RM9 billion, was awarded in 2014 and the first ship was due to have been delivered in April last year. However, none has been built so far, although the government has already paid the company almost RM6 billion.
Former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong told the Dewan Negara in September that Putrajaya’s special investigation committee on procurement, governance and finance, had discovered that RM1 billion of the RM5.94 billion paid for the warships could not be traced.