Laksamana class frigates and the Ghost of Amin Shah. Updated

PETALING JAYA: No, sdr Amin Shah has not returned from his self-imposed exile (UAE, I am told) but it appears that his playbook from the NGPV is being played out in the SGPV (the official name of the Laksamana class) programme,

This is the best description I could give to the level of intrigue surrounding the SGPV programme.As Jorge Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. It appears that many people even those involved in the rescue of the NGPV programme had forgotten about the fiasco. The Auditor General’s report is still available on its website, so its easy to re-learn the lessons. Here

I am also guessing those in power have access to a more comprehensive report on the programme which would be good enough to guide them “on the straight path” but unfortunately the same mistakes are being repeated.

While Amin Shah remained in self exile, some of his previous touches remain in play for the SGPV.

1. Amin Shah bypassed the Navy

Whenever he got stuck, financial or on specifications, Amin Shah used his political connections to get what he wants. He also more or less, managed to get the approval to buy over the Lumut dockyard although reservations by the then CN (see the AG reportI. Since the matters had gotten the green light from the higher-ups, what does the Treasury and RMN officials can say anything about it? That’s we how end up with the MEKO A100 design and the rest of the stuff on the Kedah class.

RMN was mostly bypassed with negotiations for the ships design and sub-systems were mostly through the the Defence Ministry and Treasury. (The navy by this time 2010/2011 had already got their specifications in mind). According to Zaid Ibrahim consultants were also paid to develop the specifications. Read Here. No explaination has been given on who are these consultants.

2. Amin Shah foisted a new design he hull, CMS, other sub-systems and engines to the navy (see above). We end up paying for the development costs for all these things. And the vendors later sold the upgraded designs to other navies for a profit.

A new hull and CMS were also foisted to the navy. The Gowind frigate remained a paper ship. Yes they built the Adroit, an OPV demo vessel now manned by French navy sailors but its not a frigate.

The ship is supposed to be the example of the Gowind philosophy but since the French already had their frigates, we end up as the Guinea pig. We will pay the development costs of the class together with its sub-systems especially the SETIS and if/when they managed to sell the design to other countries DCNS will be paid handsomely. We cannot ask for royalties as ours is the BNS Gowind frigate a highly specialised variant. Both the Saudi and Singaporean navies bought a variant of the La Fayette frigate, so their cost of development would be cheaper. The Saudis probably paid higher as they got the first variant while Singapore might also pay extra for their own customisation.

3. Amin Shah set up companies to procure materials and goods to the former PSC Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd for the NGPV programme. Since he controlled if not owned these shell companies he bilked the government twice. And these shell companies get their goods and services cheaply and then billed PSC Naval Dockyard a bomb. He also somehow got progress payments although the project had stalled. Some equipment, paid already by the government also went missing.

Gowind OPV

It is alleged that several companies had been set-up to provide materials and services for the programme. I know these are allegations only but since the practice is so wide-spread among defence companies, I am letting this go through. Moreover since the sub-contract agreements and similar arrangements are never made public, it is almost impossible to get the evidence to prove this allegations. The decision to hire the three consultants as mentioned in example 1 is a good indicator of possible shady practices , though I must concede not proof. That’s what you get when you allow private companies to manage procurement programme on behalf of the government without proper supervision.

Ooh, by the way, listed below are the supposedly the equipment to be integrated into the SGPV.

Guns: 57mm Bofors (BAE System), MSI 30mm remote control guns ( I written before its Oto Melara but its the same MSI guns being fitted to the Kasturi for the SLEP. The gun is a Bushmaster, the same one to be fitted on the Denel turret for the AV8)
SAM: VL Mica (MBDA) We will be the first to buy the system for a ship around the region. Hopefully the SAM is available in both the RF and IR version as available for fighter jets.
SSM: Exocet MM40 Block 3 (MBDA)
Radar: Smart S 3D radar (Thales)
FCR: Rheinmental TMX EO
Main engines: MAN diesels
Generators: MTU
VDS: Captas (most probably the 2 version)
Torpedo: 2 triple torpedo launchers (most probably the same as on Lekiu and Kasturi)

The ESSM and NSM specified by the RMN had been consigned to the dustbin.
Didnt I said before, the more things change, the more things stay the same? We got rid of Amin Shah but it appears that we are trying very hard to emulate him. It is for this above reason, I am now stating that the project is un-justifiable.

Malaysian Defence

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