Review of the award of a $200,000,000 contract for the purchase of FOUR FAST STRIKE MISSILE CRAFT

Opposition Leader writes to Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn asking for a review of the $200000000 award for the purchase of four FAST STRIKE MISSILE CRAFT for the Royal Malaysian Navy to ensure that only proven and suitable vessels are ordered

I have to-day written to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, asking for a review of the award of a $200,000,000 contract for the purchase of FOUR FAST STRIKE MISSILE CRAFT. My letter reads:

“YAB Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Pertahanan,

YAB Datuk,

On 10th July, 1976 at the handing-over ceremony of the “Putera Mangkasa” at the Woodlands Naval Base, Encik Makhtar Hashim announced that the Royal Malaysian Navy would acquire Four New Strike Craft which would be equipped with Exocet misiles and which would form the second strike squadron of the navy.

The Deputy Defence Minister said that the contract for the purchase of the Four Strike Craft wee being finalised.

I now understand that a decision has been taken to award the contract to a Swedish shipyard, KARLSKRONAVARVER AB, KARLSKRONA, Sweden, which would build four “SPICA M” class of vessels.

This has caused considerable unhappiness in navy circles because of the unsuitability of Swedish vessels.

According to my information, it would appear that the Swedish shipyard, KARLSKRONAVARVER, has never built a missile ship of this particular class before. This means that the Four Malaysian Fast Strike Missile Craft would be the prototype of first of its kind to be built by the Swedish shipyard, and this is bound to lead to many problems which usually dog prototype productions.

The “SPICA M” class of vessels which the Swedish shipyard has tendered to build is 43.6 metres, is shorter that the existing Fast Strike Craft currently in the service of the Royal Malaysian Navy by about 11 ft. I understand that the “SPICA M” offered by the Swedish shipyard is not even in the service of the Swedish navy. The Swedish navy has the “SPICA I” class which is not fitted with missiles ad the “SNOGG” class built and designed by Norway, fitted with Penguin missiles which is now out of date. The Swedish navy also has the “SPICA II” which is 144.4 ft (44 metres) which are also not fitted with missiles. The Swedish navy is not complimented with EXOCET missiles which is currently fitted on Strike Craft in the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The “SPICA M” Fast Strike Craft appears to be inferior to the existing Fast Strike Craft already in service. What is even more important, it is not a proven warship as it is not in the service of any Navy including the country which is offering this tender.

The “SPICA M” therefore is totally different from the existing “COMBATTANTE”II” class; four of which were purchased by the Royal Malaysian Navy from France in 1971 and six Fast Patrol Boats which were contracted by the Hong Leong-Lurssen Shipyard in Butterworth.

In fact, not only the selection, but the short-listing of the Swedish tender has caused surprise, as the leading manufacturers of these class of vessels are Germany, France and Britain.

As the Royal Malaysian Navy would incur a vast expenditure of some $200,000,000 in the purchase of these Four Fast Strike Craft, the Defence Ministry must purchase vessels which are most suitable and proven.

Too often defence purchases involving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of public money are accompanied by kick-backs, deals, commissions as has been high-lighted by DAP Members of Parliament in connection with the purchase of Northrop F5E jet fighters – which is now being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigations.

I ask you therefore to review this $200,000,000 award of this contract and if necessary call for fresh tenders, to ensure that only proper and proven Craft are purchased and that the technical views of Royal Malaysian Navy personnel be take into consideration, and oven more important that the highest standards of integrity are observed in the award of contracts involving such vast sums of public money.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Lim Kit Siang
(Lim Kit Siang)
Opposition Leader”.

Issued by the Opposition Leader’s Office,
Parliament House,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 27781