'National security' is often used as a blanket justification to avoid scrutiny, says Transparency International Malaysia.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs more transparency in its purchases to reduce the risk of corruption in national defence establishments, says an anti-graft body.
Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Akhbar Satar said this lack of transparency could lead to purchase of outdated military equipment at very high cost.
“This could cost them their lives when there is a war,” he said when speaking at the “Integrity in the Defence Sector” seminar today.
Akhbar said in purchasing defence equipment, the defence ministry should go for open tenders instead of direct negotiations.
“Not enough attention has been paid to the role of retired senior military personnel in the defence industry and, more particularly, in defence procurements costing huge sums of money.”
The TI-M president added that some of the personnel held corporate appointments in local companies that had been awarded lucrative support and coordination services.
He said MPs should also be kept informed so that they would be able to debate over the defence budget and monitor the purchasing process.
He said a major reason for corruption in defence procurement was the “national security exception”, which allowed military and security issues to be treated as a special case with special privileges.
“‘National security’ is often used as a blanket justification for avoiding scrutiny of security issues,” Akhbar said.
“Secrecy may be used to hide corruption.”
Akhbar referred to the 2015 Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index, in which Malaysia had scored a “D”, one notch up from its 2013 score of “D-“.
According to the 2015 survey, he said there was apparently no military doctrine for the armed forces which addressed corruption related to operations, the category in which Malaysia had scored the lowest.
There was also no consistent training in corruption issues beyond ad-hoc talks on integrity and awareness raising.