PETALING JAYA: The National Patriot Association (Patriot) has claimed that a request for change of weapon system and equipment halfway into design and construction of six warships for the country’s defence was the main reason for its delay and cost of overrun.
Its president Brig-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said the then government had switched the initial Sigma (Dutch) design to a Gowind design for the RM9 billion littoral combat ships (LCS) to be completed by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS).
He also claimed that the then government did not make any decision on the extension of time (EoT) request and the variation orders put up in January 2018 by BNS, which added to the pile up in costs every passing month.
“BNS had to claim for variation orders for the changes. The LCS project started end-2011. Question arises as to why the Naval top brass were indecisive then and had to make vital changes four years after the project commencement that resulted in redesigning and obviously cost increase.
“Whatever the excuses for the delays, variation orders and exorbitant cost overrun, the defence minister has to take responsibility,” he said in a statement today.
“Question also arises as to why, despite the lengthy discussion between BNS, the Navy and Defence Ministry concerning the EoT request and the cost of variation orders, Putrajaya procrastinated on decision-making and therefore contributed directly to the delay,” he added.
Arshad was commenting on Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s statement in Parliament on Monday that none of the six warships have been delivered by BNS despite the first one supposedly to be completed in April last year, with the government having already paid RM6 billion of the RM9 billion initially agreed to the company.
Ismail had said that in view of this, the Defence Ministry was considering three options, namely appointing Naval Group France as a rescue contractor, allowing BNS to continue with the remaining contract ceiling of RM3 billion to complete two of the six LCS units, or terminating the contract with BNS and start efforts to save the project.
Arshad said the defence ministers who had overseen the projects since it first started have to take responsibility “for this nonsense both at the shipyard and delay caused by indecision”.
“Patriot is totally disgusted with this whole episode of mismanagement, irresponsibility, and absence of accountability. It is a fiasco and national shame,” he said.