Malaysia Parliament body to question ex-defence minister Zahid over unbuilt ships

Umno president Zahid was in 2014 Malaysia's defence minister under the Barisan Nasional government.
Umno president Zahid was in 2014 Malaysia's defence minister under the Barisan Nasional government.PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several individuals, including former defence minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, will be questioned by Malaysia's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over a RM9 billion (S$2.95 billion) littoral combat ship (LCS) project.

It has been reported that RM5.94 billion was paid by the government to contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard for the project that was commissioned in 2014.

The first ship that was meant to patrol Malaysia's coastal waters was set to be delivered in April 2019. But none of the ships has been built.

In September this year, former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong revealed that RM1 billion paid for the construction of the ships could not be traced.

The PAC is a body set up by Parliament to look into government spending, with its members comprising both government and opposition MPs.

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said former navy chief admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar and a representative from Boustead Naval Shipyard, the project's main contractor, will be questioned in the proceedings that will resume in early January.

"The PAC will also conduct a visit on the LCS ship construction site in Lumut, Perak, in January next year.

"The PAC is aiming to complete and table the PAC report regarding the supply of six second-generation LCS ships in the March Parliament session," Mr Wong told reporters in Parliament on Thursday (Dec 17).

Umno president Zahid was Malaysia's defence minister in 2014 under the Barisan Nasional government.

Mr Wong said the PAC has held four meetings and proceedings over the LCS issue where Auditor-General Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid, the Defence Ministry's secretary-general Muez Abd Aziz, and former A-G Ambrin Buang and several other individuals had been questioned.

Mr Wong said the government must find a solution over the matter as soon as possible, as the failure to complete the construction of the LCS ships is a serious matter.

"It not only involves the weakness or failure in terms of administration, acquisition and finances, but it also impacts the nation's defence and security, " he said.

"The PAC believes that a solution must be decided by the government as soon as possible. It is also important for the PAC to expedite this proceedings and table its report to the Parliament," he added.