Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 12th
November 2008 at 11 am:
Azmi should reconvene PAC meetings to get
answers to many questions which MPs and Malaysians expect to find in the
PAC report on the Eurocopter deal
I thank Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid for committing
a grave parliamentary impropriety yesterday in compromising his position
as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman and trying to hit out at
me in Parliament for my earlier criticisms of him in mishandling the PAC
inquiry into the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter helicopter deal, resulting in
our joint appearance before the media at yesterday’s lunch-break.
This has refocused parliamentary and national attention on the RM1.6
billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal and the PAC inquiry, which I had
described as the most important and high-profile PAC inquiry in the
51-history of Malaysian Parliament.
Azmi gave a public undertaking yesterday that the PAC report into the
Eurocopter inquiry would be ready to be tabled in two or three days.
I therefore expect the PAC report on its inquiry into the Eurocopter
inquiry to be tabled in Parliament by next Monday or Azmi should explain
why he has broken his solemn undertaking both inside and outside the
I have no personal quarrel with Azmi as all I wanted is a PAC which is
capable of discharging its mandate to be an effective parliamentary
watchdog on government misappropriation and abuses of public funds.
I have always taken the position that centuries of parliamentary
experience world-wide have demonstrated that a PAC chaired by a
government MP – what more, if chaired by a former Minister who had just
stepped down from the Cabinet – will not be able to play the role of an
effective and efficient parliamentary watchdog.
The PAC inquiry into the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter deal will be a test
whether my reservations about Azmi as PAC Chairman is well-founded,
although I have no personal animus towards him.
In fact, I am prepared to offer all possible help to the PAC to ensure
that it conducts a thorough and satisfactory inquiry, and this is why I
had made numerous proposals and suggestions about the proper terms of
reference of the PAC inquiry in my dozen statements on the issue, both
in and out of Parliament.
If the PAC inquiry had not been as comprehensive and wide-ranging as it
should be to enable the production of a satisfactory report, Azmi should
reconvene PAC meetings to get answers to many questions which MPs and
Malaysians expect to find in the PAC finding on the Eurocopter deal.
To assist the PAC Chairman, let me summarise some of the answers which
the PAC report should furnish, viz:
1. The very grave issues about propriety,
accountability and professionalism in the decision-making process,
whether at the technical, off-set or price stages, especially when
it is now established that the government had not conducted physical
and specification inspections of the three short-listed aircrafts –
the Cougar EC725, Sikorsky S92 and AgustaWestlands AW101.
2. Why is Malaysia paying about twice the price for the EC 725
helicopters as compared to Brazil?
3. Are Nuris “flying coffins”? If not, why not just upgrade them for
a few hundred million ringgit, a small fraction of the cost as
compared to the billion-ringgit purchase of Cougar EC725 Eurocopters,
which are 40-year-old Cougars in any event? Is it true that (i) 85%
of the RMAF Nuri crashes were due to human error, 10 % enemy
aggression and another 5 % only maybe technical; and (ii) the Nuris
are still “good for another 20 years and more”, having “very low
airframe hours, with an average of 9000 hours per aircraft” as
compared to “worldwide standard for this type of helicopter
currently is more than 50,000 hours and some even reaching 60,000
4. Is there a middleman involved in the Eurocopter deal, the
identity and the commissions involved, whether paid by the
government or Eurocopter.
5. Has the PAC secured firm undertaking from the Defence Ministry
that when the government finally decides to purchase the
helicopters, there would be a new open tender for the helicopters in
view of the procedural abuses in the Eurocopter deal?
I had also proposed that the PAC should
invite representatives from all the aircraft manufactures who had
submitted bids for the helicopter tender to appear to help the PAC in
I had right from the beginning stressed that the PAC must have
independent and professional advice from people knowledgeable and have
working experience in the aviation industry, especially those who know
about helicopter operations and the history of Nuri/RMAF such as
experienced helicopter pilots or ex-pilots, particularly to enable the
PAC to ascertain whether Nuris are “flying coffins”.
What has the PAC done to ensure that it is not totally dependent on the
one-sided submissions of the Defence Ministry and RMAF?
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor