DAP has slammed Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for being more concerned with his ministry’s image than the “multi-billion ringgit scandals” Mindef was facing.

“The minister of defence must not attempt to sweep all the multi-billion ringgit scandals under his watch under the carpet by citing the fear that it will ‘undermine the image of Malaysia’s defence’ or question the ‘capability of our armed forces’,” said DAP parliamentarian Tony Pua.

azlanHe was responding in a statement today to Ahmad Zahid’s comment on Monday reported in the media.

The minister had reportedly blasted the opposition and NGOs such as Suaram for criticising the ministry, in particular for the purchase of the Scorpene submarines.

Pua said despite the issues raised in the auditor-general’s reports past and present, the minister appeared more concerned about the ministry’s image being undermined.

“The minister has expressed regret over the opposition using the issue for ‘political expediency as the general election is approaching without considering the implications’.

“In fact we have harped on continuously over these scandals are specifically to raise the capability of our armed forces to ensure that they are better trained and equipped to secure our borders,” said Pua.

Not Pakatan, but auditor-general
Pua reminded the minister that the issues had been raised by the auditor-general on an annual basis.

“It no longer comes as a surprise that the Ministry of Defence is one of the biggest culprits found by the annual Auditor-General’s Report for bad governance in its procurement and projects, resulting in billions... of ringgit of losses to the Malaysian government.

NONE“For consecutive years, the auditor-general has discovered inexcusable practices of incompetency, mismanagement and possibly collusion or corruption with unscrupulous suppliers and contractors. They have included maggots and expired food served to our army.”

Pua (right) cited numerous cases from past reports, amongst them the “improper payments” to the Territorial Reserve Army personnel reported in 2010, and the RM256 million for the Skudai 7th Brigade Army Camp that was only 18.3 percent complete, reported in 2009.

“This was despite the fact that the contractor (for the Skudai camp), Kausar Corporation has collected their construction fees in full via a land swap deal where the company was already given ownership of 153 hectares of a piece of land,” he said, adding that Kausar managed to pledge the land to a bank for RM800 million.

NONE“Despite the above, no action to date has been taken against the developer,” he said.

Pua also cited scandals such as the RM600 million “commission” for the Scorpene (left) deal, the RM3 billion cost overrun for 6 navy vessels, or the RM7.55 billion for 257 armoured personnel vehicles that he claimed could be acquired for RM1.7 billion and the overpriced Eurocopters and Rapid Intervention Vehicles.

This year’s report sees Mindef faring no better, with a RM3.21 billion contract to build living quarters for married military personnel said to have delivered shoddy units at an 84 percent cost overrun.

“Given the flagrant breaches ... we repeat our call to set up a Parliamentary Oversight Committee into Defence Procurement to ensure that our defence personnel will not be shortchanged and to ensure that every sen of our taxpayers’ monies are properly spent.”