KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia on Wednesday (Aug 17) declassified a report by a government committee that had investigated issues involving a controversial RM9 billion (S$2.8 billion) warship contract, amid public anger over the deal.
A copy of the declassified report from the Investigating Committee on Procurement, Governance and Finance (known by its Malay initials, JKSTUPKK) on the littoral combat ships (LCS) project was received by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), The Star daily reported on its website.
"PAC has been informed by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Prime Minister's Department that the JKSTUPKK report on LCS has been declassified," PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said in a Facebook post.
The investigation was led by former auditor general Ambrin Buang, with the report declassified following the PAC's recommendation on Aug 4 and a decision by the Malaysian Cabinet on Aug 10, The Star said.
"PAC will upload the report to the PAC portal for viewing," said Mr Wong.
On Aug 10, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government agreed to declassify documents pertaining to investigations by the JKSTUPKK into the LCS scandal after getting advice from the attorney general and auditor-general.
The government, through the Royal Malaysian Navy, in 2011 commissioned the construction of six LCS from local ship builder Boustead Naval Shipyard, without an open tender.
The warships, to be used to patrol Malaysia's shoreline, were to be delivered from 2019 onwards, but none are ready today.
Five of the ships should have been delivered by this month, with the sixth one scheduled to be delivered next year.
Senior Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said last week that the first of the warships is now scheduled to be ready only "in one or two years".
The bipartisan PAC, which reports to Parliament, said on Aug 4 that the first LCS was about 44 per cent completed. The PAC report also said that RM1.4 billion of government funds were used by the contractor for other purposes.
In total, RM6 billion of the RM9 billion contract had been paid out, raising public anger.
On Tuesday, former navy chief Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor, in his capacity as managing director of the Boustead Naval Shipyard, became the first person to be charged with graft in relation to the deal.
The 78-year-old pleaded not guilty to three charges of criminal breach of trust for approving payments of RM21.08 million to three Singapore-based companies without the agreement of the company's board of directors.
But opposition party Muda said on Tuesday that the charges did not address the issues highlighted in the PAC report, noting that none of the companies to which Ahmad Ramli is accused of channelling money were mentioned in the 250-page report.
PAC chief Wong said in a statement that some parts of the declassified report were redacted but it did not materially affect the report, Malaysiakini online news reported.
"However, PAC is of the position that redacting such information was unnecessary because the names of directors and shareholders (of the related companies) are information that can be easily obtained through the Companies Commission," he said.