Littoral combat ships (LCS) – the Government needs to be more transparent

Brief response by former Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu and former Deputy Minister of Defence Liew Chin Tong

Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced that the Cabinet has agreed to proceed with the Littoral Combat Ship project.

The LCS project is a vendor-driven project awarded to Boustead Naval Shipyard on 16 December 2011, with the contract signed on 17 July 2014. The first of the six ships was originally scheduled to be delivered in April 2019.

Three years later, not one ship has been successfully delivered.

The original contract value was set at RM 9 billion, making it one of the largest-ever projects Malaysia has embarked on. According to a special investigation headed by Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, RM 5.94 billion has been disbursed, of which at least RM 1 billion has gone unaccounted for.

On 11 February 2020, Ambrin and both of us – Mohamad Sabu and Liew Chin Tong – briefed the then Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on the way forward for the LCS project and recommended that those who are culpable be investigated and charged; and that the project be continued.

Hishammuddin’s announcement yesterday is in line with what we proposed. It is now back to the same position though the Navy wasted two precious years while the project hung in the balance.

To move the LCS project forward, we hereby recommend that:

1. The report by the Ambrin Buang committee (JKSTUPKK) be declassified immediately so that the nation can understand what had gone wrong previously;

2. The Finance Minister and Defence Minister jointly inform the nation on the additional costs needed to continue with the project;

3. The Defence Minister announces the new timeline of the project, given that the first ship has been late by three years with no sight of completion.

4. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) be asked to table its report on the LCS project to Parliament immediately.

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