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Author Topic: Eurocopter deal on PM’s radar-Malaysia  (Read 3272 times)

Offline tigershark

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Eurocopter deal on PM’s radar-Malaysia
« on: October 16, 2008, 07:31:56 PM »
Eurocopter deal on PM’s radar
Tim Leonard and Tan Yi Liang

PETALING JAYA (Oct 15, 2008) : Questions raised over the government’s purchase of Eurocopter’s Cougar helicopters have prompted intervention by the prime minister and the Public Accounts Committee, Parliament’s watchdog on public spending.

Approached by reporters over the gathering controversy, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had scheduled a meeting with the Defence Ministry’s secretary-general last evening to seek clarification on the deal and if there were discrepancies in the tender process.

“I’ll let you know after the meeting,” he said.
The issue was highlighted earlier this month in two letters addressed to Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who was defence minister when the deal was allegedly sealed in a letter of intent (LOI) signed by a ministry division secretary two days before Najib swapped portfolio with Abdullah on Sept 15.

Najib had said on Tuesday that he would explain the deal in detail in the Dewan Rakyat.

In his letters on Oct 7 and Oct 9, Mentari Services Sdn Bhd chairperson Capt (R) Zahar Hashim suggested discrepancies in the tender process and stated that the government could have saved almost RM1.5 billion.

In his first letter, Zahar, who claims to be the local representative for Canada’s Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd, alleged that the LOI was issued to Eurocopter abruptly even before the evaluation process of all four bidders was completed.

He also took Najib to task for giving an “inaccurate report” to Abdullah on how the deal was concluded.

The government gave its LOI to buy the 12 units of Cougar EC-725 helicopters to replace the armed forces’ aging Nuri helicopters from the German-French firm for an estimated RM2.3 billion.
The losing bidders were Kelowna, British-Italian’s Augusta Westland and American Sikorsky.

Zahar’s second letter bore corrections to the prices mentioned in the first letter. It also claimed the government could have saved RM1.5 billion if it had bought Kelowna’s Kazan MI-172 helicopters.
“The offer from Kelowna for a dozen of similar choppers was just RM898 million,” he claimed in the letter.

Zahar also said the government could have bought 30 units of Kazan choppers for the amount paid to Eurocopter for 12 choppers.

Copies of the letters were also posted to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Complaints Bureau.

Meanwhile, the PAC said yesterday it will investigate the Eurocopter deal as well as Maybank’s purchase of Bank Internasional Indonesia at a price nearly five times its book value.

PAC chairperson Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said: “We will be calling the parties involved, mainly Malayan Banking, and there have been suggestions for us to call other parties concerning the Eurocopter purchase, which has been raised in Parliament.”

He said the first step would be to call for briefings on the issues to better understand the process of paying a high premium for a purchase.

“We are not investigating; we just want to understand, and they have to explain because the public wants to know. We are responsible to Parliament, and we are also responsible to the public,” said Azmi.

He declined to mention whether Najib would be called.

“We will see first. I don’t want to jump the gun,” said Azmi, adding that a date had yet to be fixed for the two inquiries.

Azmi was speaking to the press after a briefing on the issue of illegal immigrants.

He said the PAC recommended that the Home Ministry re-evaluate the methods to curb illegal immigration. “Latest methods using modern technology have to be identified, and the problem should not be overcome by using obsolete technology.”

“One of the matters that has to be looked at seriously is how immigrants enter and leave Malaysia, not just legally, but also illegally. In Sabah, especially in Tawau, biometric technology systems have been introduced.”

He said the system, which cost RM50 million to implement in Sabah, should be used at the Thai and Indonesian borders.



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