Many maybe wondering who is Sydney Franklin. But for those in the Defence Ministry, that name has been in circulation around the corridors of the ministry for quite a while, and is a popular figure, especially among the top brasses in the ministry. He is full of generosity; readily making contributions for important golfing events organized for the top brasses. He takes pride to be in the inner circle, and he features regularly at weddings and functions hosted by the ‘who’s who’ of the ministry
Speculations are rife among defence equipment representatives, suppliers and contractors that Sydney Franklin, a British citizen is one of the favoured defence equipment ‘middlemen’ for the Defence Ministry. He is said to have been instrumental in securing several defence contracts through direct negotiations with the Defence Ministry over the last 5 years or so.
He operates an office from a penthouse located in a posh apartment at Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur. His official business address is in London where he is a registered contractor for the UK Defence Ministry (www.franklin.co.uk).
The first known contract involving Sydney Franklin was for the supply of the Astros II Multiple Launcher Rocket System (MLRS) for the Army in 2002. The MLRS is a product of Avibras Industria Areospacial International Ltd of Brazil, where a total of 18 launchers were supplied to the Army at the costs of US 207,764,155.00 (RM 727,174,542.50 approximately). Sydney Franklin is said to have been the ‘middlemen’ for this contract, concluded between the Defence Ministry and the equipment manufacturer.
In a speech by the Chief of Army at a parade to mark the 76th Army Day celebration on 1st March 2009, it was announced that the Army will be receiving its second consignment of 18 MLRS launchers scheduled to arrive before the end of the year, to complete the second MLRS regiment. The cost quoted by the Chief of Army was RM 27 million (Star 2 March 2009) which is believed to be an error, as the figure is grossly different to the cost quoted in 2002 above. It was said that Sydney Franklin was once more a party to this contract, which was again offered through direct negotiations. And anymore purchase of this same equipment will be a waste of public fund.
What is unusual about the purchase of the MLRS (and questioned by many) is that the award for the maintenance of the entire system is believed to have been given to Sydney Franklin. This deal certainly sounds odd for a strategic purchase like this. Wouldn’t it be proper for the maintenance job be awarded to a Malaysian company; thus developing some local expertise in the maintenance of strategic weaponry? Little wonder that despite the millions spend on the purchase of assorted weapons over the last five decades, the country is yet to produce a simple weapon indigenously.
In 2007, the Army acquired and was supplied with the VERA-E passive surveillance radar; a product of the Czech Republic. A similar product was also acquired by the People’s Republic of China earlier at the costs of US54.7 million for 10 systems (JDW 28 April 2004). It will be interesting to know how much was paid by our Defence Ministry, which many says is many times more than what China had paid. Again, Sydney Franklin’s role in acquiring this contract sticks like a sore thumb.
The question that need to be asked urgently is how many more defence contracts will portray prominently Sydney Franklin’s role as its middlemen? He has no official business representation in Malaysia, nor does he own a registered company in Malaysia. But yet he is consistently involved in a direct negotiated defence contract with the Defence Ministry. How could this possibly happen right under the noses of our policy makers, is beyond anyone’s belief. Are they that dumb and stupid not to have noticed the fallacy in awarding strategic defence contracts involving a foreigner without the participation of a local representative? This is a question that only our political masters and the powers-that-be in the Defence Ministry (both civilian and military) could answer.
Recently, there was a talk about acquiring the Airborne Early Warning Aircraft (AEWAC) for the Armed Forces. Will Sydney Franklin again feature in this deal through the infamous direct negotiation?
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 10.00 am on Mar 4, 2009