SHAH ALAM: Down to five LCS only. Newly appointed RMN chief Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob said today that the government has only approved the completion of five LCS only. He was speaking to the media after giving his first message as the 18th RMN chief.
“Originally we were supposed to get six LCS but after we put forward the plans to restart the project, the government reduce the number of ships to five only,” he added. Abdul Rahman said the reduction in ships was made by the government when it decided to continue with the project.
He said the sixth supplementary contract will be signed soon allowing the resumption of the project.
“We hope the project will be carried as soon as possible and the ships will be delivered as on schedule,” Abdul Rahman said without saying when the first ship was supposed to be ready for delivery.
Defence Minister DSU Muhamad Hasan recently said the first ship was expected to be delivered by the third quarter of next year.
Commentary by Malaysian Defence
The reduction to five LCS was in line with what Prime Minister DS Anwar Ibrahim had said about the LCS last August when he was the opposition leader. He was quoted as saying that it was better if the government stopped the sixth phase of the project as it has not started yet. Malaysian Defence had erroneously stated Anwar calling for the cancellation of the whole project when he did not do so. Why five? As work has not started on the sixth ship though the steel for it has already been cut and paid for. The steel is now stored at the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) in Lumut along with the other equipment for the five ships.
It was unclear however whether the reduction to five LCS was made by Anwar as the PM and Finance Minister as the RMN chief did not say it out clearly. The decision to resume the LCS project was made originally by the Mahathir government and later confirmed by the Muhyiddin one. This was further affirmed by the Ismail Sabri administration and now by Anwar himself. I am guessing that the decision to reduce the LCS numbers to five was made by Anwar though. I stand to be corrected, of course.
Interestingly, Abdul Rahman did not say and was not asked whether the government had allocated extra budget for the LCS project. We all know that the RM9 billion ceiling contract will not be enough to complete even five ships. It is not enough to complete even two ships really, as the subcontractors are already owed some RM4 billion already and the government has only some RM3 billion left for the project. We have not been told how much money is needed for BNS yet. During the PAC hearings (some two years ago), BNS stated that the project will cost some RM11 billion, some two billion more than the original cost.
With the latest developments, I am still of the opinion that we should just scrap the whole project and start anew with a new ship programme using the equipment already procured for the LCS (guns, radars, missiles etc), we just need to pay for the hulls and other machineries. Yes, we will be throwing some RM6 billion worth of LCS. But at least we will know when the ships will be delivered.
— Malaysian Defence