LCS: People have right to know, govt needs to be transparent, says PM

PUTRAJAYA: The people have a right to get an explanation on the littoral combat ship (LCS) procurement issue, and in this matter the government will not cover it up because it boils down to integrity, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He stressed that this issue concerning the procurement of assets by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) in a RM9.13bil contract should be prudently explained to avert speculation and the people jumping to conclusions.

“The previous government failed because it did not properly explain to the people when the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) issue cropped up.

“That ultimately led to the people speculating and drawing their own conclusions on what had happened, although what they thought did not happen or did not happen as speculated.

“But because we failed to give a proper explanation, the issue eventually blew up,” he said in ‘An Interview with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’, themed “Inspirasi Setahun Keluarga Malaysia”, at Seri Perdana.

Sunday (Aug 21) marks the first anniversary of Ismail Sabri, 62, helming the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ government.

On Aug 21 last year, he took over the country’s top post after Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as the eighth prime minister following a loss of majority support from Members of Parliament.

On Aug 4 this year, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) revealed that its nine inquiry sessions into the LCS issue since Nov 18, 2020 found that not even a single LCS had been completed yet although the contract awarded through direct negotiations stated that five ships should have been built and delivered by August 2022.

The contract for supply of six LCS by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) became a hot issue after it was revealed that the project, scheduled for implementation in a 10-year period from Oct 3, 2013 to Oct 2, 2023, was only 53.29% completed as at May 31, 2019.

Based on a report, by the Investigating Committee on Governance, Procurement and Finance, which was declassified on Wednesday, a total of RM5.94bil had been paid by the Defence Ministry to BNS for the project so far.

Ismail Sabri said that because of this, he decided to make public the classified findings of the investigating committee.

“We believe that regardless of the people’s perception, we must provide an explanation and we cannot cover up … that is why I decided promptly that the forensic audit report should be declassified because we must be transparent; let the people see for themselves,” he added.

The Umno vice-president said he believed that the opposition would continue to harp on the LCS issue as it had done with the 1MDB matter, but what was of importance now was how the government responded to restore the people’s confidence.

“Now there is one case, with a person already charged in court.

“I am given to understand that one or two more cases will be brought to court.

“But I believe that no matter whoever is brought to court, this issue will continue to be played up.

“So, we can’t say when this issue will die down. For me, the important thing is that I have told the Cabinet that explanations to the people on this issue are imperative,” he said. – Bernama