Guan Eng: LCS scandal should be priority, not alleged abuse of immigration officer

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PM’s lack of a discerning heart to distinguish between what is right and wrong as well as what should be prioritised to govern the country well.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has gotten his priorities wrong by focusing on an alleged verbal abuse incident involving a senior government official instead of the beleaguered multi-billion-ringgit littoral combat ship (LCS) project, said DAP chairperson Lim Guan Eng.

In a statement today, the Bagan MP said Ismail Sabri’s silence on the LCS procurement is a sad reflection of his lack of a discerning heart to distinguish between what is right and wrong and what should be the government’s priority.

“He is irresponsible for prioritising the alleged verbal abuse incident by a senior government official at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) instead of taking urgent stern and uncompromising action against those involved in the RM9 billion LCS scandal,” he said.

Hari Anggara

Lim said a four-member high-level committee led by Attorney-General Idrus Harun was speedily formed after the cabinet instructed Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali to probe the KLIA incident implicating Public Service Department director-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah for allegedly verbally abusing an immigration officer.

“In contrast, Ismail Sabri has so far failed to make any comment or taken any action since Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Wong Kah Woh published their findings last week, seeking punishment against those responsible for approving RM9 billion to purchase the six LCS built by Boustead Naval Shipyard.

“If such a high-level committee can be formed over the alleged verbal abuse incident in KLIA, why is a similar high-level committee not formed to act and punish those responsible for the RM9 billion LCS scandal?

“DAP has no objection if the government deems such a high-level committee as necessary to probe an alleged verbal abuse incident, but similar attention and importance should be placed on the LCS scandal when RM 6 billion has been paid without getting even a single ship,” he said.

Lim added that the prime minister must realise that an investigation into the LCS project is a matter of public importance that demands full accountability and transparency as RM6 billion has been paid and probably lost without a single ship being delivered.

“The PAC report revealed abuse of power, cheating and even misappropriation of funds. This would definitely deserve equal if not more weight compared to the alleged verbal abuse incident.

“Ismail Sabri’s unholy silence and inertia over the LCS scandal is a sad reflection of his lack of a discerning heart to distinguish between what is right and wrong as well as what should be prioritised to govern the country well,” he said.

RM6b spent, no ships completed

On Aug 4, PAC submitted its findings on the LCS procurement to Parliament, where it was revealed that not a single ship had been completed although Putrajaya had already paid RM6 billion.

According to the PAC report, the first LCS vessel was supposed to be delivered in 2019 but is only 44 percent completed.

The report also said the navy’s view was ignored by the Defence Ministry and Boustead.

The procurement of six LCS was approved by Putrajaya in early 2011 following a request made by the navy.

In late 2011, the RM9 billion contract was awarded to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd without an open tender being called.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said last month that it would have enough evidence to press charges against those involved in the scandal once its ongoing investigation is completed.

In January, the MACC detained two chief executive officers after finding new leads in its investigation into the LCS procurement.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said the prime minister could have resolved the KLIA fiasco without having to set up an “overkill” committee.

She said all Ismail Sabri needed to do was summon the PSD and Immigration chiefs to his office, with the chief secretary to the government as a witness.

This, she said, can be done to find ways to improve Immigration procedures in handling VIPs while saving the time of all those in the committee from having to probe the standoff.

Shafiq had denied verbally abusing an Immigration officer at the airport, saying instead that he gave a reprimand over alleged breach in procedure. – Malaysiakini