Media Statement by Liew Chin Tong in Penang on Friday, 17th October 2008: 

Parliamentary scrutiny of defence procurement as first step of reform

In view of the recent controversies surrounding the purchase of replacements for the country's aging Nuri helicopter fleet, it is high time that defence procurement be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny in order to ensure accountability in the process.

Malaysians have been informed of scandals or alleged misconduct in defence procurement from way back in the 1970s although in recent years, these allegations -- in particular against the Sukhoi and Eurocopter deals -- have involved more public funds than before.

According to a World Bank study, 15 percent of the value of defence procurement worldwide is lost to some form of corruption as it is one of the most secretive trades on earth.

Even advanced democracies, with an independent media and strong parliamentary scrutiny, are susceptible to corruption in this sector due to its unique nature, therefore it is not difficult to imagine the scenario in countries with much weaker mechanisms of scrutiny.

The Government usually justifies the secrecy involving defence procurement in the name of national strategic interest, but as the sum of contracts is too huge for the people not to have any form of check-and-balance, it is apt that Parliament plays a role here.

I have been calling for greater parliamentary scrutiny of defence deals since being elected in March and I have submitted a motion to the Dewan Rakyat during the previous and the current sittings, calling for deals that involve a contractual value of RM 100 million and above to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, as well as scrutiny by the Auditor General.

My motion reads:

"Bahawa Dewan ini menetapkan sebarang pembelian aset atau sistem pertahanan yang melebihi RM 100 juta oleh Kementerian Pertahanan, mesti dibahas di Parlimen dan diaudit oleh Jabatan Audit Negara mempertingkatkan integriti dan keberkesanan jangka panjang pembelian sistem pertahanan."

It is high time that Parliament plays a role in ascertaining whether there is any wrongdoing in the Eurocopter deal and push for it to be consulted on future procurement deals valued above RM100 million.

* Liew Chin Tong, DAP International Secretary & MP for Bukit Bendera