Dec 7, 2006

Abdul Razak Baginda case raised in Parliament

(MalaysiaKini) The Defence Ministry has denied having paid a Malaysian-owned company US$100 million (RM370 million) as a commission for a multi-billion ringgit deal involving submarines.

“The government admits it has signed a contract with the company worth Euro 114 million (about RM490 million) for coordination and support services,” Deputy Defence Minister Zainal Abidin Zin told the Dewan Rakyat today.

“However, no money was paid to this company as a commission as claimed by the opposition leader.”

He was replying to questions raised by Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) while debating Budget 2007 today.

Lim alleged that a company run by political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda had received athe lucrative commission. The latter also heads a think-tank specialising in defence and strategic issues.

According to Lim, Abdul Razak was roped in to strike the RM4.1 billion deal between the government and a French-Spanish joint venture, Armaris.

Under the deal, the government would, among others, purchase two Scorpene submarines (left) and a Agosta submarine from Armaris.

Lim wanted to know the status of the deal following the recent arrest of Abdul Razak in connection with a high-profile murder of a Mongolian woman. The analyst has claimed trial to a charge of abetment.

Zainal Abidin said the first of the submarines is expected to be delivered in July 2009 and the second, seven months later.

Interjecting, Lim asked whether an independent inquiry will be held, and also who “the real beneficiaries” were in the transaction.

“The commission might be paid by the French-Spanish joint venture, but that will be included in the final price to be paid by the government,” Lim countered.

Zainal Abidin reiterated that the government has not paid any commission to the company, stressing that the government is clean and that its spending is being audited.

“If you have proof, you are welcome to lodge a report with the Auditor-General’s office or the Anti-Corruption Agency,” he told Lim.

Army connection?

Zainal Abidin refused to comment on whether the C4 plastic explosives allegedly used in disposing of the Mongolian woman’s body had been obtained from the government’s armoury.

“We leave this to police investigations,” he said, despite being pressed by opposition MPs to answer.

Lim said the Defence Ministry should be held answerable as the plastic explosives could only be accessed by military personnel and certain police personnel.

The issue was brought up earlier today by Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) when he voiced concern about public safety, given the pparently easy availability of such explosives as allegedly shown in the murder case.

He also wanted to know whether the mace-like substance reportedly used in a spray attack against ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad in July was from the government’s armoury, since several soldiers have been questioned by the police for alleged involvement in the incident.

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