Why RM2 billion for Mindef IT project?

Patrick Lee
| October 15, 2011

PKR questions the defence ministry's need to spend more than RM2 billion for an apparently unknown IT feature

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR estimated that more than RM2 billion will be spent over an information technology (IT) project involving the Defence Ministry (Mindef).

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Mindef had directly awarded a Network Centric Operations (NCO) project to Sapura Secured Technologies Sdn Bhd over a 20-year period for the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF).

“More than RM2 billion will definitely be wasted on a project that we don’t know about. Is it needed?” she told reporters at a press conference in Lembah Pantai today.

Nurul came to the conclusion based on a Oct 13 Parliamentary written response from Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad said that Mindef directly awarded the NCO project to Sapura over a a four-phase period involving 20 years, and four consecutive Malaysia Plans; from 2011 to 2030.

The first two years of the programme would also cost RM140 million.

“For now, Sapura has been given the responsibility to develop the Phase 1A of the NCO MAF Development Program, which will cost RM140 million over a two-year period.”

“Subsequent development phases would depend on the performance and success in Phase 1A,” he said.

Minister not forthcoming on details

Ahmad claimed that Sapura was suitable for the project, as it had an apparent expertise and “vast amount of experience” in defence matters, IT and security.

“It has to be stressed that the NCO MAF Development Program is one of capability development, where it is constantly changing based on needs and new input from each service,” he said, adding that hardware and software needs could not be identified easily.

This explanation worried Nurul, and claimed that the Defence Minister was not forthcoming over details on the matter, despite promising to do so in the past.

Batu MP Tian Chua, who was also present at the press conference, said that the government was spending these funds because Malaysia was not involved in any war at the moment.

“You continue to waste a lot of money and don’t achieve the results, because we’re not going to face a major war anytime in near future.

“Such weaknesses will not be exposed…people just pump in money,” he said.

Tian Chua also claimed that his Mindef sources were unhappy over contracts being given to “politicians’ cronies”, and that “they did not fulfill the basic military needs”.

The Batu MP, however, was reluctant to say who these sources were