Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 20th January 2012:
Was the Minister of Defence wrong with his many statements last year on the cost of 6 Second Generation Patrol Vessels?
The Pakatan Rakyat Member of Parliaments - Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Saifuddin Nasution and myself would like to thank the Ministry of Defence for making arrangements to provide clarifications to us over the recent procurement controversies yesterday.
One of the key issues which required urgent clarification was the disparity between the originally stated RM6 billion to acquire 6 SGPVs, first highlighted in February 2011 which was subsequently increased to RM9 billion in December 2011.
Below is a chronology of events and statements made:
At the meeting yesterday, the Secretary-General of Defence Ministry, Dato¡¯ Seri Ismail Ahmad "clarified" the apparent increase in the cost:
Malaysians can now make their own judgement as to whether the explanation given by the Defence Ministry is acceptable or even credible.
I had asked during the meeting that if the actual purchase price or original budget was to be RM9 billion, then why did the Defence Minister announce on 5th February 2011 that it was RM6 billion to acquire 6 ships?
I further added, if it was indeed RM9 billion and not RM6 billion all this while, why was it that it took more than 9 months for the "correct" RM9 billion figure to be exposed via the Boustead announcement?
No further clarification was given by the Defence Ministry or the Minister besides insisting that it was all along a RM9 billion acquisition.
The above controversy provides one of the clearest instances why it is imperative for the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Defence Expenditure, modelled after the United States House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations which looks after defence policies as well as the US Defense Budget Appropriation Committees which review and approve detailed defence expenditure.
The setting up of such a committee with access to all the necessary and relevant documents will ensure that no one will be left with any doubt over whether it was RM9 billion all along or whether there was a massive increase in price from RM6 billion.
* Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara