Malaysia cuts combat ships order amid PAC investigation, saves costs

An article published by Malay newspaper Utusan Malaysia has been accused of jeopardising the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) ongoing scrutiny into the littoral combat ships (LCS) scandal. PAC chairman Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin expressed her concerns over the article, which claimed that the government had decided to reduce the number of LCS to be built from six to five to save costs. Mas Ermieyati has written a letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul, seeking guidance on the matter, alleging that the article violates Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 85 that relates to premature publication of evidence.

“The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) takes a serious view of the Utusan Malaysia article dated 12 June 2023 titled ‘Kurangkan kapal LCS jimat kos – Saksi’ that stated the government has decided to reduce the number of littoral combat ships (LCS) to be built from six to five on grounds of saving cost. I regret this article because it clearly can disturb PAC’s investigations, summary and recommendations for this proceeding,” Mas Ermieyati said in a statement this afternoon.

Standing Order 85 states that “the evidence taken before any Select Committee and any documents presented to such Committee shall not be published by any member of such Committee, or by any other person, before the Committee has presented its Report to the House”. The PAC chairman advised everyone, particularly mass media personnel, to respect the PAC’s investigation proceedings and to obtain official statements directly.

According to the Utusan Malaysia article, the government had opted to construct only five out of the planned six LCS to save on costs, based on information from three witnesses who spoke to an unnamed source. Last Saturday, national news agency Bernama reported that three witnesses had testified to PAC during its visit to the Boustead Naval Shipyard in the Lumut Naval Base in Perak.

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The LCS project is considered the largest defence procurement in Malaysia’s history, with a total cost of RM9 billion. The project to build six armed vessels capable of near-shore fighting began in 2013 and is scheduled to be completed and delivered to the navy by the end of this year. However, last year, PAC released a report on August 8 that found the government had already paid RM6.083 billion to the contractor BNS, without a single vessel being delivered, despite cost overruns of RM1.4005 billion.

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Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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