Govt to look into its bud­get, says Hisham

New Straits Times - - Lima'17 -

THE gov­ern­ment will look into all as­pects in its bud­get be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sion to buy the next-gen­er­a­tion multi-role com­bat air­craft (MRCA) for the air force.

Fac­tors in­clude the ne­ces­sity, af­ford­abil­ity, so­lu­tion pack­ages that come with the air­craft and what the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers have to of­fer to Malaysia.

De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Hus­sein said the gov­ern­ment wanted what was best for the coun­try and would not rush into mak­ing MRCA pro­cure­ment deals.

“Procur­ing MRCAs is not only about buy­ing, and every­body knows my ap­proach in this mat­ter. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will have to de­cide what is best for us, al­though it does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that we can af­ford it, while the min­istry will look at the off­set pro­gramme, as well as the ben­e­fits of this pur­chase to the Malaysian in­dus­try.

“The de­ci­sion will be made along the time­line that I have men­tioned be­fore... it can be ei­ther this year, or by 2020, or it can even be be­tween 2020 and 2050.

“French pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande is com­ing here in the next few days, (United King­dom prime min­is­ter) Theresa May may also come to our coun­try, and I had also spo­ken to Har­ri­ett Bald­win (UK De­fence Pro­cure­ment and Ex­port Min­is­ter) about their Typhoon, so let’s see what they have to of­fer.

“We are in the best po­si­tion to de­cide what is best for Malaysia. So, there is no hurry,” he said at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace ex­hi­bi­tion 2017 yes­ter­day.

Hisham­mud­din was an­swer­ing a ques­tion on whether the gov­ern­ment had de­cided to pro­cure the Eurofighter Typhoon or the Das­sault Rafale.

In fact, he de­nied that the gov­ern­ment had nar­rowed the field down to those two air­craft, say­ing that the Boe­ing F/A-18E/F Su­per Hor­net and Saab JAS-39 Gripen were still in the run­ning.

The gov­ern­ment, he added, would also have to take a look at whether money should be spent on the MRCA re­place­ment pro­gramme or whether it would be bet­ter served spent else­where.

“The cost of each air­craft is ex­pen­sive, and the gov­ern­ment also has to de­cide whether to have th­ese planes or to build schools, or whether it is bet­ter to use the money to build roads so that our peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas can have ac­cess to de­vel­op­ment.”

To a ques­tion from a Rus­sian jour­nal­ist on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Malaysia and the Rus­sian de­fence in­dus­try, Hisham­mud­din ad­vised in­dus­try play­ers to “keep up” with of­fers from other coun­tries or lose out in the South­east Asia mar­ket.

He said Rus­sian con­trac­tors would be left be­hind if they failed to match or of­fer bet­ter so­lu­tions in air­craft main­te­nance and re­pairs to go with their fighter jets.

“My ad­vice to the Rus­sian in­dus­try is, you have to work very hard. You need to get up to speed and not rely on past suc­cesses.

“South­east Asia now has the ad­van­tage... we have other op­tions. If you don’t show your sup­port (to cus­tomers), then we have to look at other al­ter­na­tives, like what we had done in pro­cure­ments of ships from China, (in look­ing at) multi-role sup­port ships from In­done­sia and also MRCA from the Bri­tish and French,” he said.


De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Hus­sein tak­ing a selfie with a vis­i­tor to Lima 2017 yes­ter­day.

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