Capt Zahar Hashim (Retired) who had caused a stir among UMNO circles and the government by exposing the now deferred purchase of the Eurocopter helicopters for the RMAF, and who was subsequently suspended from UMNO, is once again in the limelight. This time, he claims to have reliable information regarding the purchase of a submarine for the RMN, which was purportedly done through direct negotiations, and not through the open tender system.
I do not recall of any more new purchase being made by the RMN for additional submarines, but I do know that there is a dire need by the RMN to acquire submarine rescue services for its newly acquired submarines. The submarine rescue is deployed during times of emergency, to undertake life saving rescue operations of the crew of a troubled submarine.
The sea rescue of submarine crew is a highly specialized operations, undertaken by experts at underwater rescue using specialized equipments. For our RMN to have a dedicated submarine rescue unit may not be economically viable, because of the high costs of acquiring and maintaining such equipments. Hence most navies, with the exception of large navies, would outsource such services when the need arises. And I am told that there are not many companies in the world that provides submarine rescue services.
I suppose the issues likely to be raised by Zahar Hashim could be firstly, one that is related to the manner in which the contract was awarded and secondly, the cost of contract. If it was awarded through direct negotiation, then the issue of cost that is competitive to other bidders does not arise. Being direct negotiation, the award of contract can be subjected to abuse by the awarding party, and in this case by the Ministry of Defence high officials. I am also not surprise if the company that has been awarded the contract is owned by someone known and close to the ministry officials. One only need to check with the registrar of companies the know who’s who in the company.
Let us all wait and see what will come out of Zahar Hashim revelation and the people involved in this ‘scam’, if there is really one. And if there is one, this may yet be another test case for the newly formed MACC.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 14.00 hrs on Jan 6, 2008