The RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 helicopter deal should be suspended until the outcome of PAC scrutiny

When the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in Pekan on Sunday that the Cabinet had agreed that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutinise the acquisition of the Eurocopter EC725 helicopters to replace the aging Nuri helicopters, it raises the serious question whether the Prime Minister-in-waiting fully understands and respects the principle and practice of parliamentary democracy and the doctrine of separation of powers.

In a country truly founded on parliamentary democracy, where the Cabinet is answerable to Parliament and not vice versa, the question of the Cabinet approving a parliamentary scrutiny of an Executive decision would not have arisen – as this is the unquestioned right and prerogative of Parliament in the discharge of its tasks to exercise check-and-balance on executive power.

As the PAC has decided last Wednesday to scrutinise the three mega-scandals highlighted by Pakatan Rakyat in the 2009 budget debate, the RM5 billion Maybank purchase of Bank International Indonesia (BII) at five times the book value, the RM2.3 billion defense deal for 12 Cougar EC725 helicopters and the awarding of the RM11.3 billion high-speed broadband contract to TM Bhd, is Najib suggesting that the Cabinet would only agree to the PAC scrutiny of the Eurocopter deal but not the two other mega-scandals?

Furthermore, what does Najib mean when he said the Cabinet has agreed to the the PAC scrutiny of the Cougar EC725 helicopter deal?

Last Friday, the Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah issued a totally unsatisfactory statement to claim that the decision to procure the Europcopters was done following proper procedure and was not influenced by any party, as no satisfactory answer had been given to queries as to why the full technical evaluation process had not followed standard international practices and lacked transparency.

Abu Bakar claims that the tender documents by seven bidders were evaluated in three parts – the technical evaluation committee, offset evaluation committee and price evaluation committee.

All information and data must be presented to the PAC for its scrutiny, including the outcome of the respective technical, offset and price evaluations for each tender bid – with representives from each of the tender bidders invited to appear before the PAC as only they will know how the tender process had disadvantaged or sidelined their aircraft.

In its scrutiny, the PAC should have the benefit of independent expert advice and not be totally dependent on the Defence Ministry or Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Parliament should empower PAC to engage consultants who is knowledgeable in the aviation field especially the helicopter industry and profession.

The PAC should also scrutinize the way the tender team has carried out he selection and check the scoring system to ensure there is no partiality in the grading.

Of particular interest to the PAC is the price differential in the Eurocopter deal by Malaysia as compared to Brazil, which is acquiring 50 ‘Super Cougar’ units from Eurocopter at a price consideration of US$1.2 billion of which the first unit will be delivered in 2010, giving an average unit price of RM84 million as compared to the average unit price of RM193 million for the RMAF’s 12 Cougar EC725 helicopters.

In this connection, I call on the Cabinet to take a definitive decision at its Friday meeting that the Letter of Intent awarded to Eurocopter is suspended until the outcome of the scrutiny of the PAC on the helicopter deal.

The PAC should have a greater sense of urgency and seriousness in its decision to scrutinize the Eurocopter deal as well as the other two mega-scandals, the Maybank BII and Telecom HSBB scandals. I understand the PAC has has not scheduled any meeting dates to begin its examination of the three scandals, which is most shocking, as the PAC should be prepared to work extra hard to scrutinize the three mega deals without any delay.

  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 1:50 pm

    With such questionable records, should Abdullah allow him to take over? Abdullah should act to stop him. This will not be for political reason, but for the benefit of the citizens.

    I think it is better to let Abdullah to stay on before Pakatan rakyat shall take over, instead of having a batch of hungry ghosts from UMNO to suck our blood.

  2. #2 by Thinking Two on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 2:11 pm

    They knew very well that they have nothing to show. So it is the time to push all out while still around!

  3. #3 by wanderer on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 2:49 pm

    How to wait YB, they are not prepare to forgo their fat commissions!
    Less questions asked, the better is the outcome for their greedy plan.

  4. #4 by OCSunny on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 2:49 pm

    It is sad and frustrating to note that we will soon be having a PM whose integrity is in doubt.

    Najib must quickly clear his name or else he will not last longer than Badawi as PM because by the next election BN will suffer more lost of confidence and this will translate into votes.

    There is no point of having power and plenty of money if there is no peace and harmony in the country.

  5. #5 by pakmang on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 3:08 pm

    They thought the Raykat are still dumb dumb so that they can do whatever things they want to do…. now they will get the taste!!!

    Good jobs from the Pakatan Rakyat.Keep it up!

  6. #6 by Bobster on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 3:27 pm

    Scandals after scandals which are worst of than Watergate and Whitewater Scandals combine and the administration of this country can brush aside the issues with no single criminal charged. Good job ‘Mr Clean’, our cleaners getting much more respect than you ‘Mr Clean’.

    Now they can happily carrying on the scandals without fear in bright day light equivalent to day light robbery! What happen to Lingam, Atantuya, Submarine etc scandals now?! All buried and forgotten?!

    Something seriously wrong with this country fellow Malaysians!

    Haywire administration rules with rules of the jungle!

  7. #7 by kanasai on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 3:46 pm

    Wondered why UMNO is so dry in terms of potential leaders to fight the current old generation, outdated and tainted leaders. There is NO much competition neither for the UMNO presidency nor the vice presidency. Where are all the towering Malays? UMNO is indeed heading for doom.

  8. #8 by helpless on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 4:31 pm

    The entire camp is like “spill milk” which canot be corrected.

    The culture of getting “lucrative commission”, a polite term for corruption is too attractive. Except those dare for a scrutiny from public, there is nothing else to say but to support YB Lim’s proposition for getting consent from taxpayer before the government carrying out mega project.

  9. #9 by Steven on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 5:06 pm

    Isn’t this supposed to be a golden handshake for the outgoing premier who has reluctantly agreed to the early transition of power? Otherwise why the rushed swap of portfolios?
    These unmo goons have very little regard, if at all any, for the principle and practice of parliamentary democracy and the doctrine of separation of powers, as you have so aptly put it. This whole country is their little toy, to be played with the way they saw fit. You think they will give a damn even if you rant and kick for all you like….talk till your voice is course? Parliament is just for show since they have all the powers to play with all those little dirty games among themselves. They really believed that this country belongs to them only and therefore it is their god-given right to milk whatever they damn well pleased! It’s a big waste of time, for my money, to deal with greedy and murderous people like them. The only solution to all these is to wait for the next GE and the opposition parties unite to convincingly and unequivocally trounce them in the polls. We have to definitely get rid of this bunch of useless goons and restore true democracy to the country.

  10. #10 by Hue on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 5:11 pm

    It would seem the cabinet does not understand parliamentary procedures. On the other hand, they have been in power for so long that they are not used to be questioned by the Opposition. And the more they behave thus the more they make Malaysia a laughing stock!!

  11. #11 by baoqingtian on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 5:37 pm

    CHECKMATE! Their mistakes are not defendable. Whatever reasons they give will not be taken in by the people. But of course they will continue bullsh***ing all of us.

    Since suspending the deal will only prove them more wrong, they will never do it. They will never admit their wrongs for the sake of their future and cronies.

  12. #12 by Citizen Smith on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 7:36 pm

    The conduct of this tender is merely the tip of the iceberg with regard to the scandalous situation that is festering in MINDEF.

    The 12 airframes tendered for is inadequate to replace the Nuri fleet on a 1:1 basis. 3,5,7 and 10 Squadrons presently have 23 Nuris on the books. Mission tasking with this number is already substantive, halving the number of available aircraft is going to effectively double the tasking for each aircraft. The math does not add up until you realise that the CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) moniker used to describe the procurement is a statement of intent by the RMAF to get out of its role as provider of rotary wing lift to the Armed Forces as a whole.

    That has a very direct effect upon the rakyat as the Nuri provides the backbone of emergency lift capabilities in the country. This will have a direct impact on mercy flights, disaster relief and other missions that are not related to warfighting. It will be most heavily felt in Sabah and Sarawak where the road and transportation networks are limited and distances very great.

    The PAC needs to study not only the tender process itself but also the thinking and policies that generated said tender which do not address the needs of the nation or the Armed Forces adequately.

    The Combat in CSAR generally denotes the capability to retrieve personnel from hostile territory. Such helicopters are usually fitted with enhanced self-protection systems that are very expensive. The Nuri replacement does NOT need such systems as the likelihood of the RMAF conducting these missions is infinitesimal. In the trade, it is referred to as ‘gold plating’.

    What they do need is adequate numbers of aircraft to ensure availability and service coverage, which 12 does not.

    MINDEF has much more explaining to do than just how Eurocopter got the tender.

  13. #13 by riversandlakes on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 8:02 pm

    Is the PAC trustworthy? Otherwise, what is the point? Not even the perception of transparency is achievable so let’s not even mention real transparency.

  14. #14 by Loh on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:11 pm

    ///the question of the Cabinet approving a parliamentary scrutiny of an Executive decision would not have arisen – as this is the unquestioned right and prerogative of Parliament in the discharge of its tasks to exercise check-and-balance on executive power.///

    The Cabinet has ceased to function as one long long ago. It was taken as a place where ministers are assembled to listen to the powers-that-be declaring what he wants done. Today we are not sure who is the powers-that-be as for as the cabinet forum is concerned.

    To the person welding Cabinet power, that meeting room is for making pronouncement as would an absolute emperor. It might even announce that the parliament would no longer be in place, and hence the review by PAC was not relevant. It has instead heard announcement that the people have nothing to hide, and since corruption has already rised above the table, hiding is no longer an issue any more.

  15. #15 by katdog on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:49 pm

    If we calculate based on the 13 cougars sold to France, the French paid about RM 1.2 billion, which should be close to what we are paying.

    Now here’s some interesting information. Carefully observe tender number 6:

    “T521/07/A/006 (Eurocopter) – €233.24mil (RM1.1bil); ”

    Gee! the original tender was RM 1.1 bil. Gosh darn! how the hell did the final bill become RM 2.3 bil??

  16. #16 by katdog on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:58 pm

    Oh wait! i just finally realized the answer why there is an additional RM1.2 bil on top of the original 1.1 bil offer. It’s probably Najib’s commission.

  17. #17 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 11:50 pm

    I have doubt that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is an independent body as brother Lim Guang Eng pointed out that the PAC can only act provided the Cabinet gives consent.

  18. #18 by walao on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 2:13 am

    whatever our government wishes to buy, pls use our money wisely. Don’t simply pay and pls buy something practical. Don spend our money to buy something our army don even know how to operate like F-18.

  19. #19 by law1999 on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 7:39 am




  20. #20 by taiking on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 8:51 am

    The umno government is very fond of giving replies like these:-

    1) no comments;

    2) deny / misquoted / misreported;

    3) point out examples of worse cases in other countries esp countries poorer then us (these countries are umno’s yardstick); or

    4) claim compliance with procedures.

    Here some idiots claim compliance with procedures. Its not a hundred thousand we are talking about. Not a hundred million. But billions. A mere claim of compliance with procedures is of course not acceptable.

    We have a right to know. PAC need not seek the prior consent of cabinet before it acts. That is stupid. Najib’s statement is devoid of logic and sense. Then again I hv to remind myself that he is a product of a system where meritocracy has been rubbished.

  21. #21 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 10:33 am

    Buying the Eurocopters may be the best choice but to me our system of defense contracts is not sound.
    Most likely in a conflict, all our equipment will quickly become unserviceable.

  22. #22 by bclee on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 1:44 pm

    Yes Loh 100% agree with u, our parliament have ceased to function long long time ago with this Bee N government in power.
    the only way will be change the current government in next coming election.
    hopeless with the parliament never have a proper and gentlemen discussion like what i saw in TV broadcast how the US parliament testify the 700B rescue package to approved by senate so call law makers.
    shame of u Bee n everything done before table for discussion in parliament.

  23. #23 by bclee on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 1:47 pm

    a disgrace for the country make sure vote this Bee N out of power in next coming election.

  24. #24 by Thinking Two on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 4:29 pm

    They knew there is a dead end and that’s why push for everything out before it is too late.

  25. #25 by Godfather on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 9:58 pm

    The Defence Ministry Sec-Gen conveniently left out the fact that there is a middleman involved in this deal. We need to pressure the government to reveal who is behind this local company. Also, my understanding is that there is a separate contract for maintenance, spart parts and training which is separate from the RM 2.3 billion. We need to know which local company is involved in this separate contract.

    These people are so arrogant and they don’t know any other way of skimming public funds. Look closely and you will see a company similar to Ombak Laut of the submarine deal.

  26. #26 by chengho on Friday, 24 October 2008 - 8:05 am

    somebody have to look at the cost of ownership inc training , operation and maintainance ,spare part ,etc
    often time the initial cost look cheap but over time the cost accelerated due to other related cost.

  27. #27 by yyh on Friday, 24 October 2008 - 3:07 pm


    pls, the PAC is being used to legitimise apparent corrupt deals. remember how ecm-avenue deal was given a clean bill of health when someone with finance 101 can easily see thru thats a lopsided deal in favour of the cronies.
    PAC is supposedly to be independent from the executive. why does it need the greenlight from the Cabinet. its a hogwash investigation. worst, the cronies can now go ahead and rip-off another RM1.0 billion with PAC giving the perfect cover-up.
    By the way, they are going to reveal the middleman. must be somebody new since their oldboy RB is under trial. Oops, wonder they need another nterpreter since its another supplier from France. Must be a new one whateevr, coz the previous one is now with God.

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