A National Asset
KUALA LUMPUR: The PAC (according to the Bernama story below) have cleared the deferred Cougar procurement. It said that MINDEF had mostly followed proper procedures during the tender exercise. With one hurdle cleared, the Nuri Replacement Circus now moves to the ACA for further scrutiny, of which Malaysian Defence did not expect any fireworks.
To be honest, Malaysian Defence feels that the Cougar is a suitable replacement for the Nuri although the selection process could be more transparent and honest without the need for any Mahathirism. That is the challenge that PM-designate Najib must do, not just for Defence but his whole government, if he wants any chance of not being a seat warmer.
Anyways, the PAC clearance is academic only. There is no timetable for the actual procurement of the new helicopters though it may occur by the second of next year, if everything goes well in the political and economic circles.
No Irregularities In The Purchase Of Eurocopter, Says PAC
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 (Bernama) — The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found no irregularities in terms of procedures in the purchase of 12 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters worth RM1.604 billion, its chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said.
He said that based on PAC’s two-week scrutiny on the technical and financial details of the deal, the PAC found that the procedures used were in accordance with internationally-accepted procurement practices.
The PAC was not happy however, that no physical evaluations were made on the helicopters, he said.
“It is the PAC’s responsibility to scrutinised whether the correct procedures were followed. It is important to remember that this is an international tender process… we are being scrutinised (by people) around the world; so we have to be transparent.
“We have evaluated the deal and found that it was done in accordance with the procedures,” he told reporters after chairing the PAC meeting today.
The PAC also acknowledged the country’s need for modern helicopters as the ageing Nuri helicopters, which have been in used since 40 years ago, were being phased out.
He said that of the seven tenders received, three were found to be suitable, with offers of RM1.262 billion, RM1.604 billion and RM2.442 billion respectively.
“The Finance Ministry recommended the RM1.604 billion tender from Eurocopter,” he said.
On the lack of physical evaluation on the helicopters, Azmi said, the Defence Ministry had explained that it did not carry out any test flights as the Eurocopters were already being used in several countries.
“In fact, local pilots had tested the EC725. Based on this experience, they felt that it was not necessary to carry out test flights,” he said.
Azmi said that the PAC would suggest to the Defence Ministry to carry out a detailed physical evaluation on the aircraft when the purchase had been finalised.
Asked why the government did not choose the lowest package, he said it was because it did not meet the requirement.
He also said that the price quoted in the Eurocopter tender was only valid until February next year, afterwhich it would be up to the supplier whether to offer the same price or renegotiate the offer.
On the statement by DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang questioning the rationale for the new helicopters when the Nuri could still be upgraded, Azmi said that bigger expenses would be needed to upgrade the ageing aircraft.
“There are things which the Nuris are lacking. They cannot do night flight, they have no autopilot… all these can be overcome by acquiring new helicopters,” he said.
Asked if there were rooms for the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to investigate the deal, Azmi said, “It is up to the ACA. As far as we are concerned, that is what we see in terms of the procedure.”
He said that the PAC would continue scrutinising the deal.
Meanwhile, Azmi suggested that the government set up an independent panel to monitor purchases which involve huge expenses.
This was to rectify any weaknesses and to assure the people that the deals were carried out in a transparent manner and without wastage.
“It is up to the government to determine the panel’s membership. This is not only for puchases made under the Defence Ministry but also for all ministries,” he said.
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