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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

RM50m a year to maintain Scorpenes

The Defence Ministry also tells Parliament that one of the submarines was repaired last month and can now dive.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has to fork out RM50 million a year to maintain the nation’s two submarines, Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad told Parliament today.

He was responding to a question from Ibrahim Ali, the independent MP for Pasir Mas.

He dismissed claims that one of the submarines was unable to dive, saying it was repaired last month after suffering a technical problem.

The government bought the two Scorpene submarines from French-based company DCNS in a controversial deal in 2002, when Najib Tun Razak was defence minister.

The opposition has been alleging corruption in the RM6.7 million purchase, arranged by a company owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, the former Najib aide who was charged with abetting in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibu. The Mongolian beauty was a translator in the deal. Abdul Razak was eventually acquitted.

Abdul Latiff, responding to a supplementary question from Tian Chua (PKR-Batu), said a six-year contract to maintain the submarines had been given to Boustead Naval Shipyard and DCNS because of they had the expertise to carry out maintenance work and provide logistics support.

“Even countries like Chile and Brazil engage with them,” he said.

He said the acquisition of the submarines had boosted the morale of the military. “Even the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was impressed when he went on board KD Tunku Abdul Rahman (one of the vessels) last month and it submerged 300 metres below sea level,” he said.

It was reported last year that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman had developed technical problems and could not dive, but Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi subsequently explained that it was merely advised not to dive because of certain defects. - FMT

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