PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli has revived questions over alleged interference by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in a RM854 million defence contract.
Allegations about the two having a hand in the contract – to procure self-propelled howitzers (SPH) for the army – being awarded via direct tender first emerged in mid-August, but remain unaddressed.
According to an excerpt of an alleged letter from the Finance Ministry to the Defence Ministry, the latter wanted the contract to be awarded via limited tender.
However, the alleged letter stated that this request was rejected.
Instead, it said the finance minister agreed for the contract, to procure the SPH and related infrastructure, to be awarded to one company for RM854.3 million.
Malaysiakini has contacted the company for a response and will be withholding its name in the meantime.
Rafizi, in his statement today, produced a photocopy of the Finance Ministry letter, which included more details, including instructions by the Finance Ministry for the Defence Ministry to negotiate for a lower price and to conduct due diligence.
The Finance Ministry’s letter was alleged to be a result of the company lobbying Ismail Sabri.
The company allegedly sent a letter to the prime minister on April 21, asking Ismail Sabri to fast-track a decision on their procurement bid and for it to be done via direct tender.
Ismail Sabri was alleged to have annotated on the letter the following instructions: “YBM MOF, Saya sokong permohonan ini. Sila… ambil tindakan segera”. (Finance minister, I support this request. Please…take immediate action).
Malaysiakini has contacted the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office for a response.
Rafizi, in his statement today, also revealed that the Defence Ministry subsequently sent a letter to the company on July 25, asking it to submit a tender offer by Aug 15.
Checks by Malaysiakini found that the company entered into a partnership with three defence companies from Turkiye.
The howitzers allegedly being proposed for procurement by the company are of Turkish design.
Rafizi said checks on the company’s records show the company was only established in 2020, raising questions about its experience and expertise.
“Who is behind this company that has no experience until the prime minister himself gave instructions for the tender to be awarded via direct negotiation?
“Why do Umno, PAS and Bersatu continue to sacrifice the country’s defence interests and the troops’ welfare, by risking defence systems at the hands of companies with no experience or track record?” he asked.
Rafizi vowed to reveal more about the RM854 million project each week, from here on. – Malaysiakini