KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — The Defence Ministry received an additional RM493.3 million allocation this year, and said today the amount was needed to maintain the country’s two Scorpene submarines.
The additional amount raises the ministry’s total budget to whopping total of RM11 billion.
“The main purpose is to maintain our Scorpene submarines as that expense was not included in the budget,” The Star quoted Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) as saying.
The purchase of Malaysia’s RM7 billion Scorpene submarines has been a subject of wide controversy, after authorities deported a French lawyer who has been pursuing judicial investigations into the matter in the French courts, the day after he spoke on the issue in Penang.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs have 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.
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.