Zahid denies link to LCS project

KUALA LUMPUR: Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has dismissed allegations linking him to the mismanagement of the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN) Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) project.

The Umno president said he was not the defence minister at the time the project was awarded and only held the portfolio from April 2009 to May 2013.

"Those who failed in the LCS procurement must be held responsible, and they have to explain the matter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

"It is to support the revelation of the delay in the delivery of the project," he was reported as saying on Umno Online last night.

The PAC had, on Thursday, presented nine factors for the troubles surrounding the procurement of six LCS worth RM9 billion.

It said one of the state-of-the-art LCS was less than 44 per cent complete when it was launched in 2017.

The PAC said the government paid RM6.083 billion for five LCS to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) for the direct-negotiation project, but none of the ships were delivered.

BNS is a subsidiary of Boustead Holdings Bhd, of which the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) is the biggest shareholder.

Zahid said, according to the PAC report, the contract was awarded to BNS through direct negotiation and according to procurement guidelines dated April 17, 2002.

"It is clear that I have nothing to do with it. In fact, LTAT is the biggest shareholder in the company that is building the LCS," he said, adding that he would cooperate and give his statement to the PAC.

The PAC, in its report, said it had received the competitiveness report on BNS by the government, which was conducted to detect financial problems of the company responsible for the construction of the five ships.

The first LCS was scheduled to be delivered in 2019, but it was only 44 per cent completed, according to the PAC report.

It also stated that the RMN admiral's views were ignored by the Defence Ministry and Boustead.

PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli had claimed that an internal investigation revealed that RM890 million was embezzled from the project due to fraud, overlapping of contracts and other misappropriations.

DAP assemblyman Liew Chin Tong, in a Facebook post, said Zahid should not shirk his responsibility in the matter.

He claimed that Zahid had approved the LCS project in 2011 as the then defence minister.

"He (Zahid) had also decided to switch the LCS system from Sigma to Gowind before consulting the RMN."

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