SHAH ALAM: I can see clearly now. The decision not to arm the nine Guardians 4X4 APC with a remote weapon station (RWS) for the Malbatt contingent in Lebanon has resulted in a loss of RM2.22 million in reimbursements from the United Nations.
The Auditor General in its 2019 report of government agencies stated that a UN inspection of the Guardians showed that without the RWS, the Guardians of Malbatt was not in line with the specifications of the vehicles agreed upon under an MOU with the participating nations.
The lack of the RWS – the Guardians are equipped with a manual cupola for a 7.62mm machine gun – was the reason that the UN did not reimbursed the RM2.2 million paid for the vehicles. The government paid RM45.10 million for the vehicles which include drivers training, spare parts and delivery charges. Upon inspection by UN in Lebanon, the Guardians passed two of three requirements as it was equipped with armour capable of defeating 7.62mm rounds and capacity for up to 10 soldiers.
However, as it was not equipped with the RWS, it reduced the reimbursements paid to the government by RM2.2 million, the report said. The Defence Ministry in its answer to the report stated that the reduction of the reimbursement was due to the lack of the RWS only, without explaining further.
I had reported previously that the experience in Lebanon showed that the local population were wary of UN vehicles equipped with RWS as this means that these vehicles are equipped with cameras and recording systems. The locals felt that the cameras would be used to spy on them doing their daily business and the recordings could fall onto the wrong hands. So a decision was made for the Malbatt not to equipped the Guardians without RWS to appease the locals.
The report also noted that the Guardians were purchased as part of the RM897 million Starstreak SHORAD system deal signed with Weststar in 2015 (note the report did not name Weststar). The other deals under the Starstreak contract include the buy-back of the retired Starburst short range missile system (RM60 million) and 107 Maxus vans worth RM14.05 million. The government did not pay any money for these three deals.
The same audit report stated that even though the Starstreak deliveries were late, the Defence Ministry had failed to get liquidated damages (LAD) amounting to RM15.04 million from Weststar as off June, 2020. The delay in deliveries of the Starstreak LMS NG, according to the report was due to compliance with the United States International Traffic Arms Regulation (US ITAR). The report also stated that the 24 LML NG launcher were supposed to be supplied under the contract.
The ministry in its response stated that its Legal Division was in the process of preparing the documents to issue the LAD to the supplier.
And as if the bad stories surrounding the LCS project is not enough, the report adds more fuel to the controversy. It said the Defence Ministry had failed to issue LAD amounting to RM116.4 million to Boustead Naval Shipyard due to the late delivery of LCS1, some 245 days from its scheduled delivery date in April, 2019.
Moreover it said the ministry had paid BNS extra in progress payments by more than 21.1 percent.
It stated that as of 31 December, 2019, the progress payment made for LCS1 was RM910 million or 63.8 per cent even the actual progress of work was at that point was 42.7 per cent.
Interestingly the report stated that the total cost for LCS1 was pegged at RM1.427 billion. The ministry in its response that its legal division was preparing to issue the LAD and its also waiting for the Cabinet to decide on the direction of the project. As for the extra progress payments made, it stated that it was based on the contract’s schedule and after confirmation from the RMN LCS project team based at the shipyard.
For further details on the report go here.
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