Various branches of the Malaysian military have had a history of bad buys over the years. “Not one sen should be wasted on arms purchases” published in FMT on December 10th 2021 highlighted the delays in procuring helicopters (arriving 5 years late) and littoral combat ships (costing arriving 6 years late). Earlier on two Scorpene submarines named KD Tun Razak and KD Tunku Abdul Rahman that arrived in 2009 and 2010 had to undergo extensive repairs for extended periods in 2015 and 2018 before being operable in early 2020. 

The tender for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) light combat aircraft will be no different if what has been reported is true. As in most military tenders The Treasury holds the ‘purse-strings’ but because neither the Treasury staff nor the auditors have, by their own admission, the necessary military or technical expertise they go by cost and what is on offer. The RMAF have their own long term security and acquisition plans, but these may not necessarily be known to the officials engaged in defence budget making. 

The resultant equipment is therefore often below optimum. It must be said it is also doubtful whether the military by itself could make informed choices with regard either to defence policy or to technology assessment. 

This can lead to external interference in the budget review, push up costs and lead to questionable practices which could provide opportunities for corruption as has been the case with the helicopters, ships, submarines and soon planes. 

We have been informed that the evaluation of this RM4 Billion international tender, that should have redefined Malaysia’s air defence superiority and national security, is said to be done on a “paper evaluation only” basis. The international tenderers, except Korean Aerospace Industries, are baffled that they will not be called for a clarification session to exchange more information so that all parties are clear on the expectations from the RMAF and other government officials.

It defies all logic and common sense that a RM4 Billion contract is only evaluated using a scoring system, by a panel that has been compromised on its integrity and independence. The scoring system seems to have been weighted heavily in favour of the Koreans, while the rest are deemed not have passed the minimum threshold. Those bidding for the tender will be missing the opportunity to clarify and explain the technical details in a face-to-face session.

No one will buy a car or a house without face-to-face interaction with an agent or the owner, getting more information and being assured the product and price gives the best value. It is ridiculous that national security and taxpayers’ money are apparently not important enough for the RMAF selection committee to meet the tenderers before deciding to purchase. We understand the strong dissatisfaction within the ranks of RMAF that the Koreans have been openly guided and were given the highest points.

Alas corruption and greed has trumped lost lives, damaged property and defence being compromised. 

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