READING the long and never-ending litany of malfeasance, corruption and incompetence in our nation’s defence procurement in which billions has been lost is always a frightfully depressing affair.
In 1988, the British government under Margaret Thatcher signed an agreement with Malaysia where they would provide aid to fund a costly dam in Malaysia – the Pergau hydroelectric dam – in exchange for a major arms deal: two corvettes built by British shipbuilders and costing RM2.2 billion each in the amount of 20% the value of arms sales.
The Overseas Development Administration (ODA), the UK’s development arm at the time found that the dam would not be a cost-effective way to increase Malaysia’s electrical capacity.
Several years and hundreds of millions of pounds later, the High Court in UK ruled that the agreement was unlawful, setting the tone for tighter scrutiny of British aid programmes.
While the mainstream press in Malaysia published hardly anything on the ‘Arms for Aid’ scandal, the press in the UK levelled allegations of corruption at the Malaysian government, which retaliated with a ‘Buy British Last’ policy in 1994.
Meanwhile, from 1968 to 1997, Nuri helicopter crashes claimed 73 lives in all.
From 1970 to 1995, four De Havilland Caribou aircraft crashes killed at least 17 servicemen. Then a Super Puma helicopter crashed in January 1994, killing four crew members.,
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It was the 15th crash involving RMAF aircraft since 1990. Five involved the Pilatus PC-7 basic training aircraft; four were A-4PTM Skyhawk fighter bombers. The other incidents included the Alouette III helicopter, the Cessna 402 aircraft, a Nuri helicopter and Hercules C-130 transport aircraft.
It was remarked publicly that we have lost more aircraft and pilots through accidents than through combat.
In 2002, the government sealed a RM3.7 billion deal to buy three French submarines: two new Scorpene-class submarines and an overhauled ex-French navy submarine, the Agosta 70.
Under the deal, France would buy RM819 million of Malaysian palm oil, RM327 million of other commodities, and invest RM491 million in training and technology transfer to local firms here.
This scandal factored in the French presidential elections in 2012, and the Malaysian general elections of the same year, where it was alleged the French contractors bribed Malaysian and French officials alike.
Despite the auditor-general stating that PSC had never built anything but trawlers or police boats, it was contracted to deliver six patrol boats for the Malaysian Navy in 2004 and complete the delivery in 2007.
They were supposed to be the first of 27 offshore vessels ultimately to cost RM24 billion, plus the right to maintain and repair all of the country’s naval craft.
However, only two vessels had been delivered by mid-2006. There were 298 recorded complaints about the two boats, which were also found to have 100 and 383 uncompleted items aboard them respectively.