Thursday, April 19, 2012
Recently it was revealed that an MP asked this particular question at the current Parliamentary Session:
[name omitted] minta Menteri Pertahanan menyatakan proses pembelian kapal peronda generasi kedua (Second Generation patrol Vessel - SGPV) pada Februari tahun lalu dengan harga RM6billion sedangkan Filipina telah didedahkan telah membeli kapal jenis sama tetapi sedikit besar dengan harga hanya RM32.7juta . Adakah pembeliannya melalui proses tender terbuka. Jika ya, berapakah syarikat yang menyertainya.
Despite his colleague basically receiving a mighty pounding for asking roughly the same question a number of months back, this MP who holds a higher position in the party, still insists. I do not know MINDEF's answer but, well here's my reply:
The Philippine Navy has recently acquired the ex-US Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Hamilton which was renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar and to be followed by ex-USCGC Dallas and probably another one. Sure, it's bigger (3,000 tons displacement compared to 2,000 tons; 115m in length compared to 105m) than the favourite(?) candidate for our SGPV programme. But our esteemed MP somehow forgot to check that BRP Gregorio del Pilar was originally commissioned in 1967 and was bought second-hand by the Philippine Navy - who wants to buy a 45-year old ship at inflated prices? Next, the price tag for del Pilar is way lower not only because it's a second-hand ship but also because of what she is equipped with:
1 x 76mm OTO Melara Compact DP gun
1 x M242 Bushmaster 25mm cannon
2 x Mk16 20mm cannon
6 x M2 12.7mm heavy MG
2 x 6-barrel Super RBOC decoy launchers
1 x AN/SPS-73 search radar
Sperry Mk 92 FC System
Despite her size, she is not much equipped. Now can you spend RM32.7 million and expect the ship to be equipped with surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, guns, torpedoes, search radars, FC radars, ECM equipment, and combat data systems?
Apparently, Tuesday, 17th of April is the "Global Day Of Action On Military Spending". So being a member of the international community, some 'concerned' NGOs in Malaysia have appealed to the PM to cut down on military spending. They wanted the defence budget, which is at 2-3% of the GDP to be cut down to LESS than 1%. To highlight their concern, they quoted that the defence spending was as high as 15.9% of the GDP during the Third Malaysia Plan. They also wanted the government to promote ASEAN coo-operation to pool resources and slash arms spending in the region. Their spokesman also said that the purchase of the two Scorpene-class submarines are wasteful as the Navy needs up to ten to patrol the South China Sea and that the more 'effective' approach would be 'passive defence measures such as anti-tank or anti-aircraft systems'.
They quote the Third Malaysian Plan as being excessive in defence. They somehow forgot the political and security climate during that time, 1976 to 1980 with the Second Emergency/Insurgency at its height, Vietnam and Cambodia have fallen into communist hands and the Soviets have invade Afghanistan. They want ASEAN countries to slash arms spending but of the numerous NGOs in the region, only those in three countries had activities on the 17th. Furthermore, no NGO in one particular country which spend 6% of its GDP (or roughly US$9 billion) took part.
But the funniest thing is that when that spokesperson tried to offer a 'more effective' alternative way to safeguard our SLOC and EEZ - by using anti-tank or Anti-aircraft systems. Yes, who needs 100km-range Exocet anti-ship missiles or 50km swimming Black Shark torpedoes when you can use 2.5km Javelin ATGW or 200 meter RPG-7? Or force missiles designed to destroy AIRCRAFT to fly low and blow holes in ships?
And finally, I find it ironic that one of the protesters wore camo-pattern trousers in an effectively anti-military rally!