An 6 October article by PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli relating to a letter of award [allegedly to a crony company] for the supply of a self-propelled artillery system worth RM854m for the Malaysian Army is now being widely circulated.
Rafizi’s latest expose reveals more unethical, if not immoral, moves by politicians in power seemingly and allegedly out to enrich their family members.
Such blatant practices are quite common among our ruling politicians, whether past or present, driven by what is most obviously an insatiable quest for power, driven to fulfil their unending greed.
With so many cases of corruption pending in court; convictions upheld by the courts; and numerous exposes and allegations plus ongoing investigations, we would have thought that the fear of the law and good conduct would be the norm.
But no. …
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The question that begs an answer is whether the deputy defence minister himself … was actively involved in securing the contract?
In all likelihood, he must have been fully aware. After all, as the deputy minister for defence, one would expect he would be responsible enough to check all aspects before ‘dhobi-marking’ the deal.
Patriot believes it is only right that he resigns from his post for being morally and ethically wrong and compromised in his action as deputy defence minister.
Patriot further demands to know from Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein whether he too was in the dark – or was it yet another case of our proverbial ‘tutup satu mata’?
If the defence minister had known about it and had kept silent, he then is complicit….
How much more must we who are hell-bent on building an ethical nation put up with?
Let’s not forget the Malaysian Navy littoral combat ships scandal involving RM6bn of taxpayers’ money, which also had hints of nepotism.
In both these scandals, politicians seemed to have absolute control in determining the defence equipment purchases of the armed forces.
This must be put right so that the end user, ie the services chiefs, must have the final say in the selection of the type of equipment that they want and that meets their strategic plans.
The politicians are not privy to this aspect of defence planning, and it is for this very reason that the final decision to purchase must be given to the services chiefs.
Patriot urges the government to take a more serious view of the processes involved in such an important defence purchase. Ruling political leaders or appointees or any of their family members must not be a party to any such government contract. This is the fundamental, basic benchmark of good governance.
With regard to costs, Patriot recommends that greater public or independent scrutiny be allowed to ensure that every major defence equipment purchase meets the desired needs of the services at reasonable prices.
To cut exorbitant charges and payments of huge commissions, Patriot proposes that all future major defence procurement be executed on a government-to-government basis.
The government must realise that the funds for the purchases are paid by the public. These are not funds owned by any individual; certainly not by ministers and their deputies.
The people therefore have a right and duty to know and to question how their money is being spent.
This country has had many scandals of international abhorrence. The people cannot be made the victims of these shameful deeds by those entrusted with nation-building.
Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)