KUALA LUMPUR: The Navy will be given a “free hand” to decide on the littoral mission ships (LMS) that suit Malaysia’s needs best, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
The Defence Minister said that a Navy committee had since concluded its evaluation of nine companies.
“As end users, the Navy will decide which model is to be procured, its specifications and their combat roles.
“After that, government-to-government negotiations will take place for a memorandum of understanding to be signed with the countries in question and subsequently a contract for the vessels,” he said when wrapping up his ministerial replies on the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review in Parliament on Monday (Sept 18).
He was responding to a question raised by Datuk Awang Hashim (PN-Pendang) on the procurement process of the LMS, particularly on government-to-government negotiations which is similar to direct negotiations.
In February this year, the government approved some RM2.5bil under Budget 2023 for the procurement of three vessels known as the “LMS second batch”.
The vessels are the three first vessels in a class of eight ships and part of the Navy’s “Rolling Plan 3” of the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Mohamad, who is also known as Tok Mat, said bids for the LMS had come from France, Italy, Turkiye, South Africa and Germany.
Meanwhile, Mohamad said he would not compromise if there were irregularities over the proposed contract with Thales for the supply of a long-range air surveillance radar for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
“I take the allegations very seriously as it involves the integrity of the Defence Ministry.
“If YB Pendang has proof, please submit it to us so relevant investigative agencies will be able to take action,” he said.
Awang had asked about the deal with Thales, which is subject of a bribery probe by French prosecutors, over the USD2.5bil (RM11.7bil) contract to modernise the Indian Air Force’s Dassault Mirage 2000 planes.
He claimed that the company had also been embroiled in other questionable deals.
He urged caution as the long-range air surveillance radar would be situated in Bintulu, Sarawak to monitor the South China Sea.
Thales was awarded a letter of intent and signed the letter of contract during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2023 in May this year.