5-minute debate for RM13 billion Defence Ministry budget 2009

I was stunned when I stood up late last night to debate the 2009 Budgetary estimates for the Defence Ministry to be told by the Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee, that MPs are limited to five minutes each!

The Defence Ministry has a budget of RM13 billion for next year and is one of the six big-spending Ministries marred by mega scandals of multi-billion ringgit defence procurements.

Speaking in protest under the five-minute limit, I touched on two issues.

One is on the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter helicopter scandal – expressing concern that unless the Public Accounts Committee report on its inquiry into the Eurocopter deal is tabled in Parliament by today, Parliament would be denied of an opportunity to have a debate in the current meeting on the PAC findings and recommendations, making the PAC report quite academic and even useless.

I stressed that the PAC report should be made public in advance of any parliamentary debate so that aviation experts and even aircraft manufacturers could review the evaluation process followed in the Eurocopter deal as so far no independent experts apart from the RMAF/Mindef had been invited to provide expert opinion on the various aspects of the decision-making process.

In view of the shortness of time, I asked for an official Mindef response to the views and issues raised by an aviation consultant and helicopter expert on the Eurocopter deal, viz:

“The ‘new’ Eurocopter Cougar helicopters selected by the Government to replace the RMAF Nuri helicopters are a design which first flew in 1965 and began operational service in 1968.

“The EC725 Cougar is not a wholly new helicopter but a derivative of a design which first flew as the SA330 Puma manufactured by the then Sud Aviation which subsequently became Aerospatiale and later Eurocopter. The first prototype SA 330 flew in April 1965 and although the EC725 Cougar is the latest in a long line of subsequent upgrades, the design is still that of an old helicopter” said the expert.

“I am surprised that the RMAF considered spending so much money (RM1.6 billion) on an old design when other contenders offered to the RMAF were newer designs and fully, not partially certified to the latest safety requirements. The EC725 basic design will be 85+ years old by the time the aircraft are retired and one has to question why the RMAF is to get helicopters which are not even a generation removed from the S61A Nuris they are going to replace.

“Unless the RMAF is going to have new helicopters which are really a new design and a real generational leap, a far more cost effective method would be to upgrade the current Nuri helicopters with new blades, avionics and engines which would bring them into the same era as the EC725 for probably one quarter of the cost.

“I believe the manufacturer of the existing S61A Nuri helicopters, US based Sikorsky Aircraft, had offered a comprehensive OEM backed upgrade program for S61 helicopters which the Government and the RMAF should explore before buying Eurocopter helicopters of a similar design vintage.

The procurement of the Eurocopter Cougar helicopters is currently on hold due to financial constraints imposed by the global credit crisis.

“Since the procurement is on hold anyway, it would be a sensible decision to completely re visit the whole requirement and process. It maybe that the RMAF can achieve just as much capability for a much smaller price.”

The other issue which I touched on is for necessary changes whether in the national service legislation or regulations to exempt cases like Jane Lim for the three-month national service stint, as she and her Malacca family are traumatised by the death of her brother, Ricky Lim, 20, nine days after completing his three-month national service at Lagenda Gunong Ledang Asahan Camp.

The Lim parents have refused to allow Jane to attend the national service training and wanted her to be exempted.

Although the National Service Chairman Dr. Tiki Lafe (MP for Mas Gading) has commendably deferred Jane’s national service call-up, this is not good enough, and the necessary legislation and regulations should be amended if necessary to allow for exemption in such cases to demonstrate that the national service administration is not cruel, heartless and insensitive in these circumstances.

Furthermore, there should be a total revamp of the national service programme to end the high rate of fatalities as well as the sub-standard national service camps and training provided.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 9:16 am

    You want independent experts to provide opinions ? Look no further than our towering firm of Samshul Anuar & Melurian. They are certified to provide independent expert opinions for almost anything, from helicopters to submarines.

  2. #2 by hadi on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 9:24 am

    Wow YB Kit, RM 13 billions. So much for what? Somebody is going to make money-hah?
    There are lot more issues yet to be exposed-just watch it!!!
    The RMAF “people” are clueless right from the top are incompetent.
    Let us scrutinize the report by PAC on Eurocopter. The writer up there has got a very valid points.
    YB Kit, you only see the Eurocopter and you have not seen many more. Stop the abuse of power and the trend is endangering the defense of the nation.
    Problem with mediocre running the organization and that is “ketuanan Melayu” and with all factors considered they will come up with a bullshits answer.
    If they are sincere, they should allow your request of getting someone outside expert in RMAF operations, procurement and maintainence and on aviation industry to participate on this Eurocopter scandal debate.
    Make the report public and Malaysians need to know how they will spent that RM 13 billions.
    Don’t let it go YB.

  3. #3 by OrangRojak on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 9:30 am

    five minute replies
    are the first snowflakes
    of BN’s winter

  4. #4 by CheeseBall on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 9:32 am

    Hi Mr Lim,
    Are there alternatives or ‘think outside the box’ type initiatives you are able to initiate instead of wasting time in parliament?

    It is very obvious, that regardless of what non-umno members say and/or do, they will be blocked at every single step if the topics can potentially expose umno’s corruption practices.

    It is like encountering a brick wall. Do you side-step it or break it down?

    Would it be more productive if your party ‘think-tanks’ and yourself, strategize and implement processes to counteract umno’s corruption and make a difference, instead of just beating around the bush, being blocked at every single issue you try to make during parliament?


  5. #5 by ch on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 10:15 am

    Dear All,

    The investment arm of Singapore, Temasek Holdings has suffered paper lost of some S$35 billion as a result of the current global financial crisis. The losses were ranging from investments in ABC Learning Centres (Australia), Citibank (USA), Merill Lynch (USA), Chartered Bank (UK), Barclay Bank (UK), Shin Corp (Thailand) and presumably many other counters which had gone down in share values vis-a-vis at the time the investments were executed. Many critics were up and about picking up on the management of Temasek Holdings. But the point which am trying to send across is which policy do we prefer? An open and transparent disclosure of facts and figures as practised by the Singapore authority or the kind in Malaysia where no one know exactly how the revenue of the country is actually spent. As they say, you cannot draw a curve from one single point. Likewise, one cannot draw a conclusion from one single opinion. The system that the current government is adopting will have to be revamped if they were to think of catching up with their peers. However, we are too deep in the dark to enable such a move to be set in motion.

    The Singapore government has also recently disclosed to the public the average wealth of each Singaporean household today is about S$300,000 after netting off their liabilities. Now, that is starting from a position of near zero when Malaysia booted them out from the Federation in 1965. How much is the current wealth per household in Malaysia? The government should disclose this fact and be transparent so as to gauge how well we have fared vis-a-vis Singapore, Thailand and the rest of Asean member countries.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 10:39 am

    Soon, 5-minute examinations for UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM and universities

  7. #7 by AhPek on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 11:01 am

    “Temasek holdings have suffered has suffered paper lost of some S$35 as a result of the current global financial crisis.” ch.

    Because transparency and openness is the cornerstone of Singapore’s administration that such disclosure can be possible.But on the other hand does anyone know what is the actual loss (not paper loss) of Malaysia INC during the reign of mamak, and also bodohwi thro leakages,wastages and sticking their dirty fingers into the cookie jar?

  8. #8 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 11:24 am

    Robbers like to do it in 5 minutes and under so they can get away quick. Pronto. Pronto-lah.

  9. #9 by wanderer on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 11:36 am

    The ‘Monkey’ Parliament is making a mockery of Democracy by this UMNO-BN administration. This is the only way to avoid a constructive debate and the abuse of power. No news is good news…so, hiding the facts of crooked spending by the corrupt govt is the only way no questions can be asked.

  10. #10 by mm on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 12:10 pm

    Anyone interest about how Malaya Constitution prepare.

    Here it is the Reid Commission Federation of Malaya Constitution Report


  11. #11 by monsterball on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 12:29 pm

    The die is cast.
    The commission …all planned.
    The projects are approved.
    Why talk so much?
    5 minutes is too much.
    They make the rules…with Mr.Speaker speaking for UMNO only.
    What can you do?
    Jump from Twin Towers?
    NO NO NO!!…We be inspired by Lim Kit Siang…talk till we drop dead.
    Let the 2 million young educated voters weigh the pros and cons.
    Anyone…that does not want a change of government should have his/her brain …examined.

  12. #12 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 12:30 pm

    The Americans call this a “quickie” job.

    But our Speakers dare to claim over and over again, we are following the Westminster and Commonwealth models.

    They should just say we are a kangaroo Parliament. East Malaysians should be ashamed of their “sons” but no, they are heroes.

  13. #13 by kenghuei on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 1:16 pm

    Our ministers are just not ready to engage in healthy debates with the Opposition..for only 3 reasons, they are incapable of giving convincing explanations to the house, they cant be bothered much for the rakyat and they just want to ignore the voice of the Opposition. Worse to say, even the Speaker is somewhat biased towards BN, what is there to do except staging walkouts every time?

    If you ever have a chance to look at how S’pore parliament functions, you’d be ashame and understood why M’sia is still a 3rd world country today. Though admitedly in S’pore, there is almost NO opposition voice at all (only 2 Opp MPs), but you can actually see ruling PAP MPs debating each other..with MPs questioning their own party ministers as a voice for their constituents, raising valid good points and suggestions and holding their ministers accountable. ..

  14. #14 by AhPek on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 4:08 pm

    ‘The die is cast
    The commission all..planned
    The projects are approved
    Why talk much?
    Five minutes is far too much!’. monsterball.

    Most incisive understanding of the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ mind.Their job is to dig,dig,and dig and YB’s job is to bitch,bitch and bitch.

  15. #15 by c730427 on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 6:38 pm


    Like AhPek says, 5 min is too much!

    When UMNO/BN lose the next general election, they will have their chance to taste how its like to be opposition.

  16. #16 by monsterball on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 8:10 pm

    UMNO is..”United Malays National Organization.”…Don’t ever forget that! Nice to coin words with “UMNO”…and joke about it…but all Malaysians must remember that UMNO..represents one race only……and the scums of the earth…MCA…MIC..Gerakan…still support this long ago…out dated formula..with no balls to back Lim Kit Siang up..in Parliament….allowing racialist Jamaluddin…to promote the out-dated divide to rule formula.
    OKT can talk cock and bull outside….championing Malaysian Chinese rights….but given the golden chance…to prove his sincerity… dare not back up his claims…Malaysian Chinese are being treated as second class citizens…confronting Jamaluddin.
    Any nobody in UMNO is much more powerful than any so call President …past and present of MCA…MIC..and Gerakan…so much so…even government workers care two hoots what they instruct..as ministers. They will not reveal this….too shameful…and clinging to their job….with no shame.
    I said….”5 minutes is far too much”…..not my new found friend…”AhPek.”
    We can joke…but must keep young readers know the real truths…about UMNO.
    I am quite sure…Malays know….if UMNO represent only their race..and can divide them….and choose only UMNO members for rewarding multi billions RM tenders…Malays can understand the simple logic…such kind of people cannot be trusted.
    Just look at one honest man…Zaid..a man..with principles in life….mixing freely with Malaysians….is sacked for being a true Malaysian.
    You think UMNO want to unite all to be Malaysians??
    So choose…for or against unity…or forever be slaves to UMNO.

  17. #17 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 - 8:12 pm

    “As they say, you cannot draw a curve from one single point. Likewise, one cannot draw a conclusion from one single opinion.” ch

    Obviously somebody forgot to tell you that when two points meet they become one.

  18. #18 by chengho on Thursday, 4 December 2008 - 4:57 am

    where was the moron deputy minister of defence abuseman ?

  19. #19 by ctm999 on Friday, 5 December 2008 - 3:52 pm

    What is the main objective of NS anyway? If it is for integration, while in camps they can be divided into small groups of 20 (5 each of Malay, Chinese, Indian and others). Their task is to research into every aspects (history, origin, purpose) of all the cultural practices in Malaysia. On the last week of camp, they will present what they have learn to the whole camp. This will promote understanding, dispel myths regarding each race group and forge closer ties (read integration through understanding).

    If NS objective is to train the country’s second line of defense, are the NS graduates encourage to join Kor 501, Kor Wataniah, the country’s reserve army? Are applications forms for Kor Wataniah distributed to them?

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