Speech (2) by Lim Kit Siang at the Perak Pakatan Rakyat Chinese New Year Open House at Kwang Tung Association Taiping on Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 12.30 pm:
Why top Defence Ministry officials, including Defence Ministers, did not know for 18 months that the two missing F5E jet engines cost RM300,000 and not RM50 million each?
There are many questions about the scandal of the two missing F5E jet engines, which had made Malaysia the international laughing-stock.
The first question I want to ask when Parliament meets on March 15 is why top Defence Ministry officials, including the Defence Ministers – Datuk Ahmad Zahid the incumbent and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was Defence Minister when the theft took place in December 2007 – did not know for 18 months that the two missing jet engines cost RM300,000 and not RM50 million each.
Who was the first to say that the missing jet engine cost RM50 million each? It was Ahmad Zahid when the news about the theft first broke in the media on December 19 last year.
Who was the first to say that the RM50 million figure for the cost of the jet engine was wrong and that it cost only RM303,570? Again, it was Ahmad Zahid, in the press on January 8, 2010 – a day after two persons were charged in the Petaling Jaya sessions court with the theft of the two F5E jet engines.
Ahmad had explained that the Ministry took some time to clarify the engine’s price due to procedural matters.
He said: “We needed time to carry out internal investigations and this required time in obtaining the information and related documents”.
This is a completely unacceptable and unsatisfactory explanation. According to official accounts, the theft of the two jet engines took place in December 2007 and the military only realized that the engines were missing on May 22, 2008.
Why did the Defence Ministry take 18 months from May 22, 2008 to January 2010 to find out that the cost of the F5E jet engines were RM303,570 and not RM50 million each in 1972?
Something stinks in the Defence Ministry – as this is not the only aspect of the scandal which has raised questions about accountability and integrity which cry out for answers.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor