Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ex-deputy Minister reveals yet another BN 'fiasco'

By Patrick Lee

PETALING JAYA: Even before diving with its Scorpenes, the federal government was already under fire for its questionable naval investments more than 10 years ago.

In yet another open letter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, PKR leader Tan Kee Kwong accused the government of misusing several billion ringgit of public funds for the navy.

Tan said that former politician Daim Zainuddin took over as finance minister after Anwar Ibrahim was removed from public office in 1998.

He then revealed that after just one week, Daim awarded a RM5.2 billion contract to PSC Shipyards to build six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the navy.

“I was only an ordinary MP at the time,” said Tan, a former Gerakan leader and ex-deputy minister of land and cooperatives. “But I still questioned the action to build these ships.

“It was during the 1998 financial crisis and surely many countries during that period were on their knees as a result of the meltdown,” Tan told FMT yesterday.

"No reasonable answers were forthcoming. It was all just shoved down our throats,” he added.

To this day, Tan said he isn't certain if the navy had taken delivery of all the six OPVs.

RM600 million was unaccounted

Tan said he was part of the the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that brought the issue to light in 2005.

According to him, PAC learnt that RM1 billion had been awarded by the finance ministry to PSC Shipyards before any work commenced in 1998.

The PAC then found out that another RM2.8 billion was paid by the ministry even though no OPV was delivered to the navy. Of that sum, RM600 million was unaccounted for.

Tan then said the secretary-geneal of the defence ministry told him that the RM600 million had been used to clear a series of debts unassociated with the construction of the OPVs.

“Even Umno members in the PAC were aghast,” Tan said. He also revealed that another RM2.3 billion was given to a “new company” to complete the OPVs.

“As far as I know, no one has been charged, fined or jailed (for the misuse of funds),” said Tan. “There seemed to be no questions asked when you're on the same side.”


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