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Sakmongkol ak 47

ariff.sabri@gmail.com

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Soaring to new heights on our helicopters




THE HELICOPTER PURCHASE.

Sakmongkol was not able to write his thoughts yesterday. He went outstation. The internet connection was not good. Since he is not a Starbucks addict nor does he go to public venues where there are wi-fi facilities, he had to suffer the excruciating agony of not being able to free his clogged mind.

Unfortunately too, he hasn’t got this habit of writing down notes in a moleskin or his previous 555 buku hutang book. Yes he used to write on the 555 buku hutang which reflects he has no class. Haha. But he remembers the Malaccan born Goh Keng Swee, Singapore’s former DPM , the person who studied at LSE and counted the socialist Harold Laski as one of his professors, also used the 555 book. Ahem….

He wanted to write something on the purchase of the cougar helicopters announced by the PM last 2 weeks. The deal was signed 2 days before sakmongkol’s former boss, the man who would be PM exited the hallowed grounds of MINDEF. Now let’s see.

The Malaysian Government intends to buy 12 units to replace their aging Sikorsky S-61 Sea King. In Malaysia it is called the Nuri helicopters. Najib once rode on such a model with his bodyguard when it developed engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing somewhere.

And Nuri helicopters were involved in many fatal mishaps which require MINDEF take a serious and long look at replacing them.

The whole brouhaha started when one captain Zahar Hashim wrote a letter which appeared on Malaysia Today, casting aspersions and throwing Molotov-esque doubts at the deal. If this retired captain from Mentari Services, is not an interested party to the deal, sakmongkol would find more bullets to fire with. Since captain Zahar is an interested party to the deal, the whole picture is made different. It makes his complaints, even if they are genuine, capable of looking and sounding sour-grapeish. His company, Mentari Services failed to secure the lucrative deal. And that may be the essence of his case..

When sakmongkol wrote on the questionable Sukhoi deal, he was commenting on the purchase by two different countries of the same model- SU-30MK. India bought as USD40million, while Malaysia bought at USD50million. There you are comparing apples to apples.

Even that has invited a response from one Shaftec who has produced a lengthy rebuttal by regurgitating a manual of technical specifications which would have required a mechanical engineer’s expertise to unravel them.

In the case of this helicopter, our arguments would be rendered emasculate because:-

We are not comparing even similar products. Sakmongkol hates this because it deprives him of the bullets to fire. We are comparing the cougar helicopters to the ones offered by Captain Zahar, another Russian made helicopter. Its not a comparison of apples with apples. Its more like comparing a Bentley Arnage or Bentley Azure with the proton Wira.

The Eurocopter EC 725 Cougar is a long-range tactical transport helicopter developed from the Super Puma/Cougar family for military use. It is a twin-engined aircraft and can carry up to 29 seated troops along with 2 crew, depending on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for troop transport, casualty evacuation, and combat search and rescue duties. In other words it is purpose built for military duties.

An industry source says that several international companies had bid hard to win the tender but it was clear that the EC725 was the strongest contender due to its ability to keep on flying even when running out of hydraulic oil.

We can go into the numbers and dissect them to support our arguments. Sakmongkol will not go into the technical details. We must assume the technical people at MINDEF must have done a thorough comparison. And the merits of the two helicopters( in this case between the Cougar and Kazan) can be debated till blue in the face and the cows come home, by their respective experts. Sakmongkol is certainly not in that category.

It’s the whole premise of our arguments that sakmongkol is questioning. Do we go on building a case based on a failed complainant on the deal? Has captain Zahar aired his complaint because he didn’t get the contract?. The price difference is so humongous that even the most preternatural( read bloodsucker as in corrupt prone) officious military assessors are likely to avoid like the leper. The price difference alone is a crater that is impossible to cover. The question is why such a huge price difference?

Which can only suggest that maybe the copters offered by Kelowna through Mentari services offered less sophisticated technical specifications.

Sakmongkol was once involved in a defence contractor’s bid to supply bulk food to the MINDEF. It had submitted the best deal in terms of price. Sakmongkol stupidly raised the matter with the minister then and even met up with the technical committee evaluating the tender. We found out to my embarrassment and to the officers condescending glee, the price was the cheapest, because the tender omitted to include a very important product in his tender. Since the omitted but crucial product was a substantial cost item, its omission made his tender appeared to be the best.

We don’t know the details what captain Zahar offered but there are certainly grounds to believe that such a huge price difference between his Kazan and Eurocopter’s Cougar may have been caused by some major technical differences

SUPPLIER

HELICOPTER

PRICE(RM)

EUROCOPTER

Cougar EC-725

2.32 billion

KELOWNA

Kazan MI-172

898 million

SIKORSKY

Sikorsky S 92

1.45 billion

.

Captain Zahar opined that if the government buy’s the Kazan, it would have saved a lot of money and continued his assault by asking rhetorically, that the money saved could be used for development purposes. We shall not go into that and sakmongkol finds his attempts to make his case relevant by producing data on GDP of various countries so pedantic.

Of some merit perhaps, was his concern about the manner in which the decision to buy the cougar copters was made. It was made before a thorough physical and actual assessment on the prowess of the helicopters had taken place. If that were true, then it would certainly raise the possibility that the decision to buy cougar copters was already decided before hand.

This should have been the issue not Captain Zahar’s failed bid. Would captain Zahar raised the matter, had it been Kazan that was selected and that decision too, was pre-determined?


16 comments:

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 14:52  

Tersentuh hati saya baca surat kaptain zahar pada datuk najib dalam renovatio. panjang berjela suratnya. rasa2 macam terdesak jer. takut dah banyak pelaburan di buat untuk melobi agaknya. nampak gayanya kaptain ni tak ada tokoh sorang bisnesman la. mana boleh tulis surat macam ni pada boss besar. macam ler nak tutup kedai terus.

cuba ler jumpa dan cakap baik2 dengan datuk. kalo tak dapat supply hari ni, esok lusa kan ada benda lain nak supply. tak kan tak tahu datuk najib kan nak jadi pm. kan lebih besar peluang kalo kaptain ni ada vehicle yg kuat utk propose apa saja yg terbaik utk gomen.

nampak gaya kaptain ni well-connected dgn org dalam. sebab tu serba serbi dia tahu. anyway, bukan u sorang jer yg kecewa kaptain. kalo nak ikut kecewa beratus lagi yg kecewa. tapi kesabaran kena ada sebagai kontraktor atau supppier. kalau kita tak dapat supply helikopter hari ini, tentu ada org lain yg dapat. kalau kaptain yg dapat, org2 yg lain tu pun pasti tak puas hati jugak. ini lah adat membida kontrak. i pernah dengar sorang teman tu sampai dekat 5 tahun berkunjung ke mindef. byk dia belajar. akhirnya tuhan buka rezeki dia. dapat apa yg dia proposed bertepatan dgn kemahuan mindef. so bertenang kaptain. saya harap hati2ler bila nak lepaskan peluru tu...

Prebet Adam

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 15:00  

HA HA HA. HEAR YE ALL, HOW SAKMONGKOL HAS INSTANTLY BECOME AN APOLOGIST FOR, AND EVEN A BOOTLICKER, TO DATO' NAJIB FOR CRYSTAL-CLEAR REASON. SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRINCIPLE, BROTHER!

jedi 15 October 2008 at 15:58  

Hey Mat,

Deeply uncomfortable with the fictitious article in Utusan about the murder of a YB. which apparently is aimed at Teresa Kok. Have the editors of Utusan gone out of their minds in allowing such voodoo journalism to come through? Is there an appetite out there for such writings? If this goes unchecked, I fear for Malaysia. "Something is [indeed} rotten in the state of Denmark".

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 16:02  

I believe sakmomgkol is saying what is just right and nothing concern his stand about najib. It’s more about capt zahar and his disappointment. It's the product and its spec that were stressed here. Maybe sakmongkol will stress on the issue of transgressions later on.

Ayuni

Zawi 15 October 2008 at 16:20  

We should thank Capt Zahar if not for his failure to get the tender we wouldn't have known that the purchase was made without a detailed study of the merchandise. In our case having too expensive sophisticated helicopters is not necessary as our need are merely troop transport and evacuation of flood victims and food supply. Even with the best helicopters we cant even win a war against the mighty red dot down south.

Ismail N 15 October 2008 at 16:30  

Dear Bro Sakmongkol,
It is common for a party that feels aggravated (in this case, Captain Zahar) to make a complaint and claims that there are hanky panky in the Ministry’s decision to award the contract to its competitor. There is also no denying that we have plenty of reasons to worry when the price differences are huge and public perception will always be that there are parties that are certain to reap huge rewards from the deal. Then again, such things are unavoidable. It happens everywhere and we pray to God that the rakyat won’t suffer too much from the corrupt practices of our minister-in-charge.
Nevertheless, when purchasing something, we must also bear in mind that price is not the only factor. Otherwise, no one will buy Land Cruiser and everyone will go for Kancil. As you have argued technical specifications may play a role in raising the cost of Eurocopter’s Cougar and price may go up further because of durability, low maintenace cost and warranties. Trade realationship and trade balance between governments may also play a part as we weigh our decision to award the tender to interested parties. There may be other reasons and we can never rule out foul play. But, whatever the reasons are, (as an avid reader of your blog), I must say great to see that you are back.

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 16:49  

Couldn't agree more with u ismail n. many factors involved in buying one product. Not merely on the price. As u said trade relationship and trade balance between governments may also play a part as we weigh our decision to award the tender to interested parties. Maybe some sort of butter trade involved here between our palm oil or latex for that matter. Furthermore najib is Felda minister rite?

Anyway Zawi was also right. We don't need too sophisticated heli for our purpose. We can use land cruiser instead of hummer.

mrgondol.

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 17:06  

Right the main issue is why should Malaysia use Royce Roy when Proton will do?

With that kind of money with interest we can purchase another set of helis when this batch is old.

Easily outlast one batch.

Even Advanced countries are not all using ...and Malaysia hardly the league want to do so?

Give us a break.

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 17:13  

Since Sakmongkol knew so much about this Eurocopter EC725, then can he tell us what is the actual cost of the 12 Eurocpter EC725?

Anonymous,  15 October 2008 at 17:52  

Agak2 hang la, Sakmongkol, sape la calon Presiden UMNO yang Zahar akan pilih dari bahagiannya (PJ Selatan). Dah sah bukan Najib kan? Does it mean Ku Li, or Pak Lah? But this mangkuk hayun ni jugakkan yang buat report BPR pasai Pak Lah dan Najib mengempen masa taklimat umum peralihan kuasa di PWTC?

walla 15 October 2008 at 17:54  

"customers for the EC 725 have as yet been announced by Eurocopter. However, it is clear that the new version of the Cougar is being aggressively marketed. 'Our price is more competitive than Sikorsky's (S-92),' says Alain Rolland."
ref: http://www.flug-revue.rotor.com/FRHeft/FRH0106/FR0106g.htm

This was of course long ago; things might have changed; it was also mentioned that eurocopter france would be ploughing back 150 million myr to do something here...but then again if we overpay, maybe the difference is that; same mo with the sukhoi- they say they fund the angkasawan but we overpay for the planes.

i can pull out those janes articles on both but they won't have the prices in them.

What's important to note is that people have died in the nuri; there was a crowd, i saw, at the field in front of the GHKL mortuary when they brought the bodies in. This mustn't happen again.

But it needn't have happened if the right thing had been done earlier. And that must include buying things at the right price so that more can be saved for maintenance.

If someone's finger has gone into this eurocopter pie, then the money is stolen, and lives will again be taken.

Think about that. Think hard, whoever you are. And may parliament open this up once and for all.

Jed Yoong 15 October 2008 at 21:35  

OooOOooOOOOOo, 555, so cheapo-ler. Kee Kee Kee...Are you recording the debts of those who pajak their tanah? Kee Kee Kee.
=) Kee Kee Kee
Get a blackberry-ler. Can blog via email. Kee Kee. I just got a GPRS phone, learning how to work it...Kee Kee

sakmongkol AK47 aka Mat Tomoi 15 October 2008 at 23:37  

anonymous at 1500.
bootlicker- haha. lick lick...its either salvatore ferragamo or Prada. but damn the cheap kiwi shoeshine.
apologist..? apologise for not exposing the bloodsucking contractors much earlier...from razak baginda to this bloody captain zahar... tiba2 jadi self righteous. oi you people, lelong all those s class and X-5's. those are blood money you earn.

lekiu,  16 October 2008 at 03:03  

I have always regarded Najib as an astute Minister of Defence.

Although the tender process leaves a lot to be desired, but thus far, the purchase made by Najib's men have been nothing short but impressive.

His pick of SU-30 over F-18E/F, Scorpene over Zwaardis class and now EC 725 instead of S-92 or the God forbid Mi 172. When the Lekiu Class was purchased, it was the most advanced frigate in SEA. I just hope the Lekiu Batch 2 will be more sophisticated than the RSNs La Fayette Class.

Mat Cendana 16 October 2008 at 16:19  

I was wondering why there were no posts from you. I guess it's only natural since, in my mind, "Sakmongkol AK47" has become synonymous with "prolific"; so an absence of only one day raises questions!

You had used the 555 book?! PHEW! That's a relief - had thought *I* am the only cheapskate type with my 200-pages, thin, brown cover Buku Latihan. As compared to the 555, mine is "De Luxe" class Haha!

But seriously, there is A LOT of important information inside them. And if I were to go anywhere for a period of more than six hours, or if there's potential "for something", I'd bring one along.

With you (you have to take the "former ADUN" status into consideration; Mamasita might be embarrassed), I'd recommend that you get a few of the vinyl-covered exercise books and have one inside the dashboard of your car. Do this and you'll be fully covered should you be away from an Internet connection.

And why not download Windows Live Writer - with it, you can write posts and immediately send them in once you get a connection again.

P/S: Based on the e-referrer.com statistics at my Cendana Blues: Addicted to Politics site, clicks from HERE have now exceeded those from CheDet.com. THANKS!

That said, I've not sent in any comments to there the past week. Hmm, have to think of something provocative and/or intriguing to try attract "something" from there - it's a blog with VERY heavy hits.

sakmongkol AK47 aka Mat Tomoi 16 October 2008 at 18:44  

mat cendana,
when it comes to these internet jargons such as e- referral, i am a nitwit. dont even know what they are.
been trying to download the windows live writer- if only i know how. haha

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