Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Sub That Cannot Dive

I was browsing through The Malaysian Insider news portal when I came across this news with the headline “Inability to dive won’t hamper sub’s operations”, that was posted yesterday. It seemed that a technical fault in the nation’s first submarine, the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman that prevents it from diving is a minor hitch that will not interfere with its operations. This pronouncement by Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was promptly accompanied by a smug retort: “We have a warranty on the sub...”

Just as soon as I read this, I exploded with laughter. Of what use is a sub that cannot dive, eh? Does this mean that we have paid RM1.7 billion for a boat that is disguised as a submarine? Already our second submarine, the KD Tun Razak is late in arriving our shores – it was originally scheduled for delivery in late 2009, but is now due to arrive from France on May 31.

The two submarines have attracted controversy since the deal was signed in 2002. Malaysia’s opposition claims that a RM540 million commission was paid to a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak in brokering the contract. Najib has denied there was any corruption in the deal, which was made when he was defence minister.

In the SPL game today, Celtic drew 4-4 with Aberdeen. The former could have sealed the match but the latter staged a thrilling comeback to share eight goals with 10-man Celtic. The Dons leveled twice before half-time, volleys by Michael Paton (9) and Darren Mackie (37) eclipsing strikes by Celtic’s Diomansy Kamara (3) and Marc-Antoine Fortune (36). Then Robbie Keane's header (65) and Aiden McGeady's powerful drive (72) looked to have sealed the points for Celtic, but for Aberdeen’s Steven MacLean's double – the first a penalty (75), and the second when he diverted Mackie’s shot into the net (88) to restore parity.

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