Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let's Meet in Court!

Zahid and Pua cross swords again over defence deals
Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, YUEN MEIKENG and RAHIMY RAHIM

DEFENCE Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Tony Pua (DAP– PJ Utara) have crossed swords again over the procurement of vessels and armoured personnel carriers (APC) for the armed forces.

Both men said they would not hesitate to haul the other side to court over defamatory statements made over the procurement of the military hardware.

“If you want to bring me to court, I am willing to meet you there but I, too, am ready to take you to court over your wild allegations,” Zahid said when asked by Pua about the purchase of six patrol vessels valued at RM6bil.

He said Pua should not have made unsubstantiated claims on his blog or through media statements.

Earlier, their argument started when Zahid said he would not compromise on the country’s security by divulging details of the procurement.

On his part, Pua stressed that he was not touching on military secrets but was instead seeking details about the deal following an increase in the purchase amount by 26% from RM5.35bil to RM6.75bil.

“We want to ensure that this does not happen again,” Pua said, adding that he would not hesitate to take legal action against Zahid over any “wild allegations”.

Zahid said the higher purchase price was due to the cost of fitting the vessels with the appropriate systems, and not due to certain parties “pocketing sales commission” as alleged.

He said Pua had failed to present evidence of wrongdoings despite being requested to by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Both sides traded words again over a deal between DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd and FNSS Turkey over the purchase of APC that cost RM5.8bil.

Zahid said the deal was for the purchase of “baseline” APC which did not include the cost for the necessary weapons and communications sub-systems depending on their combat roles.

To a question by Salahuddin Ayub ((PAS–Kubang Kerian) on the difference between the defence budget of Malaysia and Singapore and neighbouring countries, Zahid said that it would correlate with the gross domestic product and defence needs of each country.
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