Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brazil buys Eurocopters at half of our price

PKR Youth has revealed that Brazil purchased the Eurocopter Cougar EC-725 at RM82 million per unit while Malaysia were paying RM193 million per unit for the same model and specifications [Malaysiakini, 20/10/08]

The Defense Ministry has approved the RM2.3 billion purchase of 12 Eurocopter Cougar EC-725 helicopters to replace the aging Nuri models which have been in service for the past 39 years. To date, a total of 14 Nuris were reported to have crashed and with it, the lives of 107 servicemen.

Yet, it was not a surprise that such high profile purchases of the 12 Eurocopters would stir up a fair deal of controversy and skepticism from various sides.

Former Defense Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who oversaw the deal was questioned for his ministry's decision to purchase the Eurocopters when similar and cheaper models were available from other manufacturers.

On October 20, PKR Youth deputy chief, Mohd Fariz Musa lodged a police report regarding the latest exposé into the much questioned government purchase of 12 Cougars worth RM2.3 billion. In a press conference, he stated that such large discrepancies in the prices both Brazil and Malaysia were paying for the same model merit an in-depth investigation and of course, public scrutiny.

"Brazil have signed a contract to purchase 50 Cougars worth US$1.2 billion (RM4 billion). On the other hand, Malaysia have sealed the deal worth RM2 billion for just 12 units," he explained at the Dang Wangi police station in relation to his report. [Malaysiakini, 20/10/08]
  • Brazil gets 50 Cougars for RM 4 billion.
  • Malaysia gets 12 Cougars for RM2 billion.
Earlier this month, Mentari Services Sdn. Bhd., the company which was involved in the tender, issued a written letter to Najib seeking to explain that Defense Ministry's decision to award the deal to Eurocopter was "too costly". The company chairman, Capt (R) Datuk Zahar Hashim also revealed that his side was shock to learn that the ministry had ordered the Letter of Intent (LOI) to be issued to Eurocopter while the process of evaluation of all bidders was still on-going.

Zahar said that for the price of the 12 Cougars, the government could have purchased 30 Kelowna’s Kazan MI-172 helicopters that could save the federal treasury of RM1.5 billion.

You may read Zahar's 5-page letter to the Deputy Prime Minister here.

However, Najib remained unshaken by the accusations and announced that the Cabinet has given the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the green light to investigate the alleged chicanery revolving the Eurocopter deal. He also expressed his desire that the committee would not be influenced by any sides and be allowed to study the details of the deal.
  • Does the PAC require the permission from the government prior to an investigation of suspicious government dealings?
  • Shouldn't the PAC be independent from the government in order to effectively ensure transparency is practiced?
The need for the PAC to seek the permission of the Cabinet to carry out its duties is like asking a student to mark his own examination papers. Can the PAC expect honest disclosure by people involved in the controversy who might have their hands tied or mouths shut?

Following Najib's statements, DAP Petaling Jaya MP, Tony Pua has pressured Najib to respect and honour the independence of the PAC. He also condemned Najib's statements, saying it was a "mockery of parliamentary sessions" by requiring PAC's actions to be approved by the Cabinet.

"They must stop denigrating the Parliament and its institutions to tools of the Executive to achieve their own ends. In addition, they must cooperate fully with the PAC at all times, including if the Deputy Prime Minister himself, or members of his Cabinet are called to be queried on various scandals which affects them or their ministries," Pua who is also a member the PAC said in response to Najib's statements. [The Malaysian Insider, 20/10/08]

There is a dire need for transparency today especially when high profile deals and ostentatious civil projects draw their fundings from the pockets of taxpayers. It is highly unfortunate and disturbing for machineries like the PAC to still stand in need of "government approvals" in order to carry out its duties to keep corruption at bay.

For that itself is already corruption.

3 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    Obviously, there is corruption in here.

  2. Anonymous said...

    The PAC committee may not be able to get to the bottom of it unless someone is familiar with what is going on in MINDEF.
    First thing they should look is where is the report of the NURI phase out before the decision was made on the replacement.
    Why there are upgrading program which is on going that costs millions.
    Can someone relate what really happen to the NURI despite looking at the hours flown majority are under utilize.
    How do they come out with the General Staff Requirement on the replacement heli.
    Why there is no physical evaluation done. Even as claim by one writer that someone had flight tested the heli during LIMA but who? and where is the report. A lot more brother let just wait.

  3. Malaysia Digest said...

    The price difference is for someone retirement money.

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