Cabinet agrees to declassify reports on LCS project

by AZREEN HANI / pic TMR FILE

THE Cabinet has proposed that the Special Committee on Governance Investigation, Government Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) report on the RM9 billion littoral combat ship (LCS) to be declassified.

“The Cabinet also proposed that the Audit Report on the LCS Project conducted in 2019 to be declassified, as well,” Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) said in a statement today.

However, Ismail Sabri said this is also pending the advice of the Attorney General and the Auditor-General.

The PM added that the Cabinet’s decision today will not get in the way of the Mobilisation Process under the LCS Recovery Plan which was decided on April 20, 2022.

“On behalf of the government, I assure you that the investigation related to this issue is being conducted transparently and the government will not protect anyone involved in this,” he said.

On Monday, former Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu or commonly known as Mat Sabu and his deputy, Liew Chin Tong, said without the declassification of these documents, many questions about the scandal will remain unanswered.

“First, we endorse the suggestion of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the Tan Sri Ambrin Buang’s Committee report ‘Laporan JKSTUPKK Berhubung Perolehan Enam Buah Second Generation Patrol Vessel, Berkeupayaan LCS Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, Kementerian Pertahanan Malaysia’ to be fully declassified. (PAC Report, Point 12.1, page 168).

“The report contains detailed financial information that is not fully disclosed in the PAC Report,” they said in a statement.

Second, they asked the government, especially Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, to declassify the Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd’s forensic report on LCS commissioned in 2019. The audit was conducted by audit firm Alliance IFA (M) Sdn Bhd.

“This forensic report is crucial as it contains details of exactly who was culpable at the operational level,” they said.

“Third, declassify the 10 letters by former Navy Chief Laksamana Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Jaafar, who was at the helm from April 1, 2008, until Nov 17, 2015.”

Last week the PAC announced it had found that the government had paid a total of RM6.08 billion for the LCS project, but not a single ship was delivered.

According to the original schedule, as of August 2022, five ships should have been completed and handed over to the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Instead, the cost of the LCS has increased 50%, bringing the total cost of the project to RM9 billion.

Armed Forces Pension Fund CEO Ahmad Nazim Abdul Rahman yesterday said that RM6 billion spent on a bulk purchase of equipment to build six LCS was less expensive than buying them individually.

He also confirmed that the vessels were being built at the Lumut shipyard, Perak.