Civil rights group Suaram is appealing to the Malaysian government especially national graft-buster MACC to co-operate with the French police on their probe into the two Scorpene submarines purchased by the defense ministry in 2002.
“We urge the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to not delay any further but work together with the French authorities so that Malaysian taxpayers can finally know if their money was properly spent by the government,” Suaram executive director Cynthia Gabriel told Malaysia Chronicle.
Cynthia was referring to news out of France that its police had raided the offices of DCNS and Thales – the firms that had built the submarines ordered by Prime Minister Minister Najib Razak who had held the defense portfolio at that time.
Speculation has been rife that 114 million euros (or about RM540 million) was paid by the two French firms to Perimekar, a firm controlled by Najib’s close associate Abdul Razak Baginda. Malaysia is believed to have paid US$1.1 billion (or about RM3.4 billion)for the submarines.
In March 2010, Suaram had lodged a complaint with the French authorities after the government ignored repeated calls from pressure groups to make public the details of deal.
“We are of course encouraged by the latest development which is a definite step forward in what may be a long and arduous investigation,” Cynthia said.
“We will call on the French authorities to reveal their findings in the shortest time possible. We also hope the Malaysian government and its agencies will extend whatever help is needed by the French investigators because at the end of the day, they are helping the Malaysian taxpayers.”
Suaram also plans to intensify its awareness campaigns on the matter and on the cards are a series of talks, public debates, lectures and even peaceful demonstrations.
A wide range of topics is expected to be covered and debated, including government procurement procedures, security requirements, whether Malaysia needed such expensive equipment and were the submarines suitable choices for guarding the coastline.
Meanwhile, Pakatan Rakyat leaders have promised to raise the matter again in Parliament and call for a White Paper on the procurement to be tabled.
“The people are getting impatient because they have been told the economic recovery is very robust. Yet, the government wants to cut subsidies and raise prices. The rakyat want to know what is happening and is their money being properly managed?” said Cynthia.
“So public awareness is the key. Look at the Aminulrasyid shooting case. Before, everyone feared to complain about police brutality or negligence. Now they are braver and more cases are surfacing. Same goes with corruption in the government. The people need to put their foot down or it will worsen.”
Pejabat Ketua AMK