SHAH ALAM: Another nail in the coffin. According to the Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin Hussein last December, the ministry was finalising the National Defence and Security Industry blueprint (DIPKN) which will be published this year.
The DIPKN was among the initiatives put forward by the Defence White Paper 2019 which was unanimously approved by Parliament and is effective for the next 10 years.
It is interesting to note that while the ministry was preparing the blueprint for the local defence and security industry, one has to wonder what will happened to the SME Ordnance Sdn Bhd (SMEO), the original local defence player. As I had posted previously, it is looking more and more that SMEO is being left on the wayside though I must admit it is mostly self inflicted.
The latest blow to SMEO is the publication of the latest MTO tender involving the shipping of blank 105mm cartridges. The cartridges will be shipped from the Karachi port, which most likely meant that it was procured from the Pakistani Ordnance Factory. SMEO was previously the sole supplier of HE and blank 105mm cartridges for the Army. The tender to supply 2,000 blank 105mm cartridges was published in August, 2020 and awarded to Betamat Sdn Bhd with the Letter of Award price of RM2.7 million. Another tender published in August, 2020, for 3,000 105mm high explosive ammunition was awarded to Traumland Sdn Bhd with an LOA of RM12.3 million.
The blank 105mm ammo is mostly used by the 41st Battery of the Royal Artillery Regiment for occasions involving the King, from investitures, opening of Parliament and even state funerals.
The 41 Battery of the RAD used the US made M102 105mm guns for ceremonial firings and even the same gun carriage has been modified to carry the coffins of royalties to the cemeteries.The Army also uses the blank 105mm ammo for firing using the 105mm Pack Howitzer for non-live firing demonstrations.
It is clear that if the DIPKN blueprint is published without a way forward on SMEO and Airod, it is simply not worth the paper it is printed. It must be noted that both companies were fully state owned companies until the early 80s when they were was partly privatised. Despite the privatisation, both companies remained partially owned by the government which clearly called for a solution in the near future.
— Malaysian Defence