Malaysian minister says none of his family are involved in warship project

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Latiff Ahmad also denied claims that his wife or wives were involved. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian minister has declared that none of his family members were involved in any businesses linked to a controversial warship project.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Special Tasks) Abdul Latiff Ahmad also denied claims that his wife or wives were involved.

"I have no wife or wives named Zainab Mohd Salleh. None of my family members are involved in business involving the supply or construction of the ships," he said in a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 26).

He ended his post with a Malay poem saying that a liar's words will soon die and become a joke.

His response comes after opposition politician Rafizi Ramli on Monday named Datuk Latiff as another key player in the RM9 billion (S$2.8 billion) littoral combat ship (LCS) project of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Mr Rafizi had provided documents and screenshots of social media posts to reaffirm his claim that Zainab Mohd Salleh was the second wife of Mr Latiff, and that she was linked to firms that allegedly siphoned millions of ringgit from the project.

Mr Latiff, who was formerly a deputy defence minister, had earlier this week said the woman was not his wife.

The Malaysian navy in 2011 commissioned the construction of six small warships from local ship builder Boustead Naval Shipyard, without an open tender.

Delivery of the vessels, to be used to patrol Malaysia's shoreline, was to have started from 2019. Five of the ships should have been delivered by this month, with the sixth scheduled for delivery next year. But not a single ship is ready today.

The bipartisan Public Accounts Committee, which reports to Parliament, said on Aug 4 that the first LCS was only about 44 per cent complete today.

The committee also said that RM1.4 billion of government funds had been used by the contractor for other purposes.

In total, RM6 billion of the RM9 billion contract had been paid out, raising public anger.

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