READING the long and never-ending litany of malfeasance, corruption and incompetence in our nation’s defence procurement in which billions has been lost is always a frightfully depressing affair.
In 1988, the British government under Margaret Thatcher signed an agreement with Malaysia where they would provide aid to fund a costly dam in Malaysia – the Pergau hydroelectric dam – in exchange for a major arms deal: two corvettes built by British shipbuilders and costing RM2.2 billion each in the amount of 20% the value of arms sales.
The Overseas Development Administration (ODA), the UK’s development arm at the time found that the dam would not be a cost-effective way to increase Malaysia’s electrical capacity.
Several years and hundreds of millions of pounds later, the High Court in UK ruled that the agreement was unlawful, setting the tone for tighter scrutiny of British aid programmes.
While the mainstream press in Malaysia published hardly anything on the ‘Arms for Aid’ scandal, the press in the UK levelled allegations of corruption at the Malaysian government, which retaliated with a ‘Buy British Last’ policy in 1994.
Meanwhile, from 1968 to 1997, Nuri helicopter crashes claimed 73 lives in all.
From 1970 to 1995, four De Havilland Caribou aircraft crashes killed at least 17 servicemen. Then a Super Puma helicopter crashed in January 1994, killing four crew members.,