TI-M questions sudden silence over the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) project

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has questioned the sudden, all round silence over the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) scandal despite the government's assurance of getting to the bottom of the issues previously raised concerning the troubled project.

The anti-graft watchdog said nothing had been heard of any actions to address the various issues raised and bring those responsible to justice after two senior executives involved in the project were detained in January this year.

TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly stated his firm commitment to fight corruption and improve governance and integrity in the public sector.

"This must also apply to the LCS project and the government must ensure it is not abandoned. Holding those responsible for this problematic project accountable for their actions is vital," he said in a statement.

Mohan said there were issues on governance and transparency related to the problematic LCS project which remained unanswered, including the rationale for awarding it to the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) in 2011 through direct negotiation.

He said red flags should have been raised when BNS first indicated its inability to deliver the LCS within budget, while also questioning those responsible for approving changes to the design specification from the Royal Malaysian Navy's preferred LCS.

Mohan said these were some of the questions that TI-M had previously raised in August 2022.

He said TI-M acknowledges the rationale behind the government's decision to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to take over BNS, as RM6 billion of taxpayers' money had already been paid for the construction of the ships so far.

However, he said a quick look at the project status will show that after 4 years, not a single ship has been delivered while the project cost has increased from RM9 billion to RM11.2 billion

"Despite this, the RMN will now only be getting 5 LCS instead of 6," he said.

Meanwhile, in a related developed, newly appointed Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Datuk Seri Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said the first PAC meeting this June 6 would focus on the LCS issue.

Speaking to Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, she was reported to have said that the committee would scrutinise reports on the project and also visit the Boustead Heavy Industries Corp (BHIC) yard in Lumut on June 9 and 10.

However, PAC did not reveal on the number of witnesses they planned to call as part of their probe into the LCS issue.

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