MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



Saturday, July 30, 2011

Khairy: Yes to transparency, but not for arms buys

July 30, 2011

Bourdon’s deportation has thrown the spotlight back on Malaysia’s arms purchase methods. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has declared support for a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, but stressed last night that several areas needed to be excluded in the interest of national security, such as defence procurements.

He pointed out that “no country will disclose specifications” of their military hardware due to security concerns.

“The exact specs of tanks, what kind of systems and missiles we use shouldn’t be discussed in Parliament and recorded down on the Hansard,” the Rembau MP said at a forum on FOI at the Bar Council last night.

The issue of defence deals cropped up again after authorities deported a French lawyer who has been pursuing judicial investigations into Malaysia’s controversial RM7 billion Scorpene submarine purchase in the French courts, the day after he spoke on the issue in Penang.

In his absence, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs had accused the Najib administration of wanting to keep the facts hidden in the purchase of the submarines from French defence firm DCNS and up to RM16 billion in defence deals over the past three years.

However, Khairy, along with DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago, mooted an Armed Services committee instead be formed by lawmakers and the armed forces to hear representations from field experts before discussing policy in secret.

When asked if this would still mean that decision-making was shrouded in secrecy, he said that “some disclosure is better than none and at least MPs, representatives of the people, will have the information.”

The purchase of two submarines from French defence company DCNS in 2002 was made when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was still defence minister and a company run by Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close aide of the then-deputy prime minister, was reported to have received commissions of over RM500 million from the deal.

Human rights groups and opposition parties here also linked the episode to the 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

In December 2009, Suaram filed a complaint with the French courts asking for access to information regarding government contracts signed with Abdul Razak’s Perimekar Sdn Bhd and other information classified as official secrets in Malaysia.

The French courts accepted the request to investigate claims of graft in the RM500 million payment from DCNS to Perimekar.

French lawyer William Bourdon had arrived in Kuala Lumpur on July 23 from Penang, where he spoke at a fundraiser organised by rights group Suaram regarding the Scorpene submarine deal but was prevented from speaking at further events when immigration officers boarded his plane and detained him before deporting him the same night.

Klang MP Santiago had said that Malaysia should go further than simply forming a committee to scrutinise defence procurement as defence journals and publications “already tells you who’s buying what for how much.”

“If you buy a missile for so much, experts can tell you why. So there is nothing to hide. If you search on Google, you can find out what the Malaysian government has.

“Procurement policies should be made clearer. This culture of secrecy must come to an end,” he said.

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