Purchase of Eurocopters and Respect for the Public Account Committee
DAP National Deputy Chairman and Deputy Chairman for Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Dr Tan Seng Giaw believes that all people should respect PAC, including ministries. This means that whenever a ministry is requested to appear at a PAC meeting, the Secretary-General should attend. If he or she gives good reasons for his or her absence in writing, then his or her deputy can attend instead.
The Auditor-General or his or her deputy or both attends every PAC meeting.
PAC is a miniature parliament, a very important committee, appointed by the House under the Standing Order 76, to examine the accounts of the Federation, accounts of public authorities, reports of the Auditor-General and other matters it may think fit.
This morning the Ministry of Finance was asked to brief PAC on the purchase of 12 Eurocopter EC 725 helicopters to replace Nuri helicopters of the Malaysian Royal Air Force (RMAF). The secretary-general did not appear; he did not write a letter. Three secretaries to respective divisions such as Dato' Norrizan Shafie, Supervision and Monitor division, Dato' Syed Nasir Syed Ahmad and Dato' Farhana Mohd Razali came. The meeting was cancelled.
Yesterday, Dato' Abu Bakar Haji Abdullah, Chief Secretary of the Defence Ministry, Tan Sri General Azizan Ariffin, RMAF Chief and their technical personel gave briefings on the open tender to buy 12 helicopters for utility and search and rescue (SAR) for the RMAF.
The ministry did not have physical assessment such as test flying of the various helicopters; its secretary-general testified that its test pilots had flown such helicopters as EC725 during air shows like Farnborough, Paris, Brunei adn Langkawi. The estimated price of the three types of helicopters shortlisted are: Agusta Westland RM 2.4 billion, Eurocopter EC725 RM 1.6 billion and Sikorsky RM 1.26 billion.
The objective of PAC is to srutinize the purchase. The letter of intent (LOI) was issued to Eurocopter Corporation on 15 September, 2008. There is a furore over the LOI as there is suspicion of impropriety. The Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on 28 October, 2008, that the deal has been put on hold because of the global economic crisis.
Malaysia needs to buy military hardware such as helicopters to meet its doctrine and requirement. But, all purchases must be transparent and accountable.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw