The Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarine competes on the global market against an array of competitors, especially ThyssenKrupp HDW’s U209/212/214 family. In June 2002, the Malaysian government signed a EUR 1 billion contract with Armaris (now DCNS) and Spanish naval shipbuilder Izar (now Navantia) for 2 SSK Scorpenes and associated support and training. Both submarines have been delivered to Malaysia, though there have been some technical problems. Which pale in comparison to the deal’s other problems.
Within Malaysia, the sale has been compromised by an ongoing trial and set of legal actions around the public kidnapping and private execution of Mongolian modeling student, translator, and paramour Altantuya Shaariibuu. Full and impartial accountability for public figures is not a prominent feature of Malaysian justice, but French Journalist Arnaud Dubus added to the pressure with a March 5/09 report in France’s Liberation, “Un cadavre très dérangeant: L’étrange affaire du meurtre d’une interprète mongole qui gène le pouvoir en Malaisie” (Page 30-31). It named very prominent names, offered details, and revealed the contents of documents that Malaysian courts had refused to admit. A subsequent bribery investigation by French authorities has led to the emergence of even more documents, and the scandal is becoming a significant presence in Malaysian politics.