Has Hishammuddin given up on the idea of an RCI into RM9 billion LCS scandal altogether?

This is “No News is Bad News” with regard to the RM9 billion littoral combatant ships (LCS) scandal.

The Cabinet met yesterday and the Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has not made any announcement about the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the RM9 billion LCS scandal.

Can Hishammuddin explain why he has given up on the idea of an RCI into the LCS scandal altogether?

On August 16, Hishammuddin promised the Dewan Negara that he will present the suggestion of a RCI into the LCS scandal at the next day’s Cabinet meeting.

After the Cabinet meeting on August 17, 2022, Hishammuddin said he had fulfilled his promise to bring the suggestion of a RCI into the LCI issue to the cabinet, but that more discussions and time were needed for a decision to be made.

On the expected timeframe for the cabinet to decide, Hishammuddin noted that the Agong was at the time abroad and there were further matters that could be discussed at another cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday, I said that about a month had passed, and yesterday’s Cabinet meeting would be the third last Cabinet meeting before Dewan Rakyat reconvenes on Oct. 3 and I reminded him about the RCI for the LCS scandal.

I have given Hishammuddin 20 reasons why it is in the public interest to have a RCI into the LCS scandal.

The partial forensic audit into the LCS project – which had three problems: being confined to 2011-2014, denied access to all records of LCS programme and blocked from access to the records of Contraves Advanced Devices Sdn Bhd (CAD) and Contraves Electrodynamics Sdn Bhd (CED) which played very important roles in the LCS project – found among other things:

  • The terms of most of the LOAs (Letters of Award) and VOs (Variation Orders) were not in the best interest of the company and were more favourable to CAD/CED;
  • The evidence of irregularities and lack of proper governance were gathered as early as 2010, confirming that vendors were determined, even before the issuance of LOA, by GOM (Government of Malaysia) in favour of BNS (Boustead Naval Shipyard);
  • Despite various red flags raised by ex-officers and associates of the company about the irregularities in the execution of the LCS programme, no corrective measures were taken either by the management or the Chairman of the Board of BHIC (Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation) to stop the abuse of power.

There have been four Prime Ministers and six Defence Ministers in the past 15 years, and everyone of them should be able to throw light on the LCS scandal by testifying at the RCI.

But the onus of the LCS scandal fall mostly on the three former Defence Ministers in the years between 2007 to 2018.

I am convinced that the two earlier former Defence Ministers, namely Najib Razak who became Prime Minister and Finance Minister from 2009 to 2018, and Zahid Hamidi who was the Defence Minister from 2009 – 2013, must bear the brunt of the responsibility for the LCS scandal.

Has Hishamumuddin, who became Defence Minister from 2013 – 2018 anything to hide that he does not want a RCI into the LCS scandal to reveal?

If Hishammuddin’s father, the third Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, had been alive, he would have no hesitation about a RCI into the RM9 billion LCS scandal.

Tun Hussein presented a White Paper in Parliament in 1979 on the RM65 million Bank Rakyat scandal. The LCS scandal is 140 times that of Bank Rakyat scandal of 1977, and will be more, if eventually the procurement of the six LCS ended up with a bigger budget.

Is Hishammuddin any different from his father?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri