Thursday 8 September 2011

PKR questions another mega military bill

PKR today wagged its finger at another directly-negotiated government procurement contract, which it says can potentially waste millions of ringgit more in taxpayers' money.

The project is the 'Network Centric Operations' (NCO) for the Malaysian Armed Forces that was directly negotiated between the Defence Ministry and Sapura Secured Technologies Sdn Bhd.

The existence of this deal was revealed by PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad on Aug 19.

tian chua nurul izzah 080911"To date, PKR is made to understand that the project does not have a 'roadmap' that locates this programme within the framework of the nation's future defence needs. What then is the effectiveness of such a programme, when its direction is not set from the start?

"Will the absence of a 'roadmap' therefore imply that the total cost of this project will skyrocket, and which parties stand to profit from the lack of direction or a project cost cap for the NCO?" PKR vice-presidents Tian Chua and Nurul Izzah Anwar asked in a joint statement.

The opposition party's fears echo public outcry over the escalating cost of the much-promoted mass rapid transit or MRT project, for which no blueprint or roadmap was produced, with financial projections and project parcels still undefined, even after it was announced and a 'caretaker' contractor appointed without open tender.
No transparency or good governance

The NCO programme, meant to integrate sensors, command and control and weaponry systems, is projected to be worth more than RM2 billion over a period of two or three Malaysia Plans - or a period of 10 to 15 years.

PKR also alleged that the 'General Service Requirement' (GSR) identifying all the hardware and software needed by the NCO project was neither completed nor approved prior to the start of this deal.

"This clearly shows that the project has not been subjected to the due processes of transparency and good governance. How can the minister of defence allow such weaknesses in governance to take place before his very eyes?" Tian Chua and Nurul Izzah asked in their statement.

azlanThe party also claimed that a technical viability study for the existing 'Command and Control' (C2) system currently in use by the armed forces was still being conducted. Despite this, PKR claimed, Sapura was insistent on building a completely new C2 system.

"How can the Defence Ministry allow Sapura to be so insistent, without taking into consideration the findings of the report?" the leaders further asked.
Concerns over wastage of public funds in mega projects, including for defence procurement, peaked recently with the prominence of the Scorpene submarine purchase scandal and other high profile public projects, such as the MRT system for the Klang Valley.
'Political decision caused dissatisfaction among military'

During a press conference held in front of the Defence Ministry today, Nurul Izzah slammed this as a politically-motivated action taken by the ministry, despite the actual needs of the military.

“There is no clear justification on why this NCO should be developed,” said the Lembah Pantai MP.

Tian Chua claimed that this decision has caused dissatisfaction among the members of the military itself.

“The military personnel themselves within the ministry have questioned the wisdom of the decision of going ahead with this, because they themselves understand the needs of our defence system.

“It seems that the politicians disregard the opinions of our military leadership, and they are just going to award the project probably based on different needs rather than the needs of our security system,” said the Batu MP.

“You can also ask how did we get the details of this thing, this (internal sources within the military) is the only way,” added Nurul Izzah.

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