Azmi Khalid

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) closed its investigation into the theft of two F-5E jet engines belonging to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) by concluding that none of the force’s high-ranking officials were involved.

PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the conclusion was made after it found no evidence at all to link any senior RMAF officer with the theft.

“The PAC found that there were internal weaknesses (in RMAF) but we could not find any irregularity involving the higher-ups,” he told reporters after chairing the second PAC meeting with the Defence Ministry and RMAF on the jet engine theft at Parliament building, here Tuesday.

Among those seen coming out of the meeting were Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Abdullah and RMAF chief General Datuk Seri Rodzali Daud.

Azmi also stressed that the stolen jet engines were worth RM300,000 each and not RM50 million as reported before by the media.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the PAC also confirmed that the sacking of a Brigadier-General last year had nothing to do with the jet engine theft.

Azmi said based on the investigation, the theft of the jet engines did not happen during delivery but during storage as there were no records of the engines being taken out.

He said the jet engines were found missing from the Material Processing Shed (MATRA 1), Sungai Besi RMAF base where the engines had been kept.

Based on that, the PAC did not dismiss the possibility of the theft being carefully planned with the help of people inside.

“They had the intention to steal and meticulously planned the theft. They had studied the internal weaknesses and took advantage of this to remove the jet engines from the storage facility.”

Azmi said MATRA1 kept more than 400,000 spare parts and equipment belonging to RMAF but none of these had been stolen from the storage facility.

He said the RMAF, meanwhile, was enhancing its administrative system, including its asset management, and moving towards full computerisation for greater efficiency and to prevent the recurrence of such a theft.

The media recently reported that two F-5E jet engines had been missing since 2007 and believed to have been sold to a foreign country.

The RMAF started operating F-5E fighter jets in 1974 but their services were terminated in 1999 and taken over by the MiG-29N and F/A-18D jets. However, in 2003, the F-5E jets were reactivated as training and surveillance aircraft to meet the current needs.

Early this month, a sergeant in the RMAF and a businessman, who is also a company director, were charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court over the theft of the two jet engines.

The government is now trying to get back the jet engines which are said to be in Uruguay.