I wish to refer to a Bernama report citing the Prime Minister’s remarks that direct negotiations for defence equipment contracts “were for those that involved security equipment or certain strategic projects which must be kept confidential such as the purchase of weaponry systems”.
The Prime Minister said this in a written reply in parliament recently in responding to a question from Tian Chua (PKR – Batu) who wanted to know what is the total value of purchases or projects carried out by the Defence Ministry from 2006 until last year.
Personally, I don’t believe the answer given by the Prime Minister is totally correct.
Malaysia being a net importer of defence equipments (strategic or otherwise) cannot possibly keep its purchases a secret from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or from any of its competitors. This is a well known fact, that the moment a planned purchase is known, manufacturers of similar equipment (through its authorized agents) will be knocking at the doors of the Defence Ministry to start proposing their product.
It is also a fact that authorized agents will even have in their possession the full specifications of the equipment almost immediately upon an intended purchase is made by the ministry. Under normal circumstances, the specification of the equipment will be prepared by specially designated military officers and held under restricted distribution. However, this does not really happen and the specification document will invariably be leaked out. How this occurs is anyone’s guess.
On the part of the international defence media, they too have their own means of acquiring ‘intelligence’ regarding any intended defence equipment purchases by a potential buyer. Even if there is no firm letter of intent issued to the OEM, a write-up in the defence media will already be published. One only need to refer to Jane’s defence magazine to read an entire write-up of the intended purchase. And on the local scene, the Asian Defence & Security magazine will also have something to write.
Then how do we ensure confidentiality in the purchase of certain defence equipment? This will be a question that only the Defence Ministry can answer.
And once again, I wish to reaffirm that the award of contracts through direct negotiation is undeniably a source of corruption.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 5.00 pm on Mar 4, 2009