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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has today assured the Dewan Rakyat that no additional cost will be incurred while the littoral combat ships (LCS) project is being completed.
Following concerns from the Opposition that the project may be infested with rats for taking too long, the politician known as Tok Mat jokingly asked all MPs to pray with him so the cables meant for the vessels would not be affected by vermins.
“Let us all pray together so that the rats don’t bite the cables,” Mohamad told the Parliament in his winding-up speech for the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review here.
He was replying Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Datuk Seri Ismail Hashim Abdul Aziz who asked about the possibility of high costs incurred by Putrajaya from the extension of the project for the remaining vessels.
“When [the first ship is] left by the shore for too long, we know it will likely have rust, what more when it has been left there for a very long time. Who knows, those long cables might have been bitten by rats? That would incur high cost,” Ismail said when he interjected Mohamad during the winding-up speech.
He also insisted that Mohamad list in detail the remaining 6 per cent of design details that have yet to be finalised.
“The remaining 6 per cent is not critical or essential design elements. The 6 per cent is the design of the ship’s above-water surface. The design for under the water surface is all ready. This 6 per cent is not very important because it is a design deck above the surface of the water,” Mohamad replied.
The LCS project is expected to commence building around next week, he added.
Meanwhile, the Opposition MPs also called for the government to refrain from selling in bulk Boustead Plantations Bhd’s (BPlant) shares to Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) citing the risk of the government losing its voice in the former.
It was reported that KLK had proposed to acquire 739.2 million shares or 33 per cent of BPlant’s stake for a total of RM1.15 billion or RM1.55 per share, which PN lawmakers claimed may cost the future of the Armed Forces and its retirement welfare.
PN’s Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal said when he found out about this, he felt embarrassed at the situation for BPlant’s condition.
“Isn’t there any other government-linked companies (GLC) that could buy over the shares?” he said.
His Putrajaya colleague Datuk Mohd Radzi Md Jidin also asked that Mohamad protect BPlant as he did for Pharmaniaga Berhad, another subsidiary of Boustead Holdings.
“As you have said before, if anyone wants to buy Pharmaniaga they have to cross over your dead body, why don’t you do the same for Boustead?” Mohd Radzi said.
Mohamad, however, said the matter has yet to be finalised at the Cabinet level and that he would negotiate with the Finance Ministry for the best decision.
“The matter has yet to reach the Cabinet. I only have one body,” he said, in response to Radzi’s remark on his “dead body”.
“We did open this to the GLCs, but not many were interested or their bidding price was too low. I will negotiate with MoF to see what’s the best solution for Boustead.”
Meanwhile, on the procurement of the Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) Batch Two, Mohamad said this will be done via a government-to-government (G2G) approach, and his ministry had earlier tabled to the Cabinet on August 23 on the direction for the procurement of the ships.
Mohamad also said that before the commencement of the G2G procurement process, a tender will be opened where a total of nine prospective companies have placed their bids for the design of the vessels.
“This was then followed by an evaluation and study by the Royal Malaysian Navy’s evaluation committee where they will look for the right model, specification and combat capabilities. Further negotiations will be made first with the companies that passed the qualification level, and then will be the G2G procurement commence,” he said.
He added that the two countries will also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to place accountability on both countries in supporting and monitoring the implementation of the G2G procurement to ensure its success.