Planned $12b military deal seen as test for Pakatan government

Process closely watched as gauge of new leadership's commitment to boost transparency in sector

A Sukhoi fighter jet owned by the Malaysian air force on the tarmac at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in March. The planned purchase of 30 light combat aircraft will be the single-largest defence procurement deal under P
A Sukhoi fighter jet owned by the Malaysian air force on the tarmac at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in March. The planned purchase of 30 light combat aircraft will be the single-largest defence procurement deal under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's administration, which took power after the May 9 polls last year. PHOTO: BERNAMA

Behind-the-scenes lobbying for a new multibillion-dollar military procurement contract for 30 light combat aircraft for the Malaysian air force is shaping up to be a policy challenge for the Pakatan Harapan coalition government.

Long considered a nest for dispensing political patronage, Malaysia's secretive defence complex is undergoing a shake-up as established operators with strong ties to the previous Barisan Nasional coalition government face competition from new players seeking a slice of the action.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Planned $12b military deal seen as test for Pakatan govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe