Dubious Mindef land swaps report 
to be declassified

The report will reveal the alleged discrepancies in 16 land swap deals valued at RM4.9b, involving the ministry

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By TMR

Details of the controversial land swap deals belonging to the Armed Forces Fund Board will be made public soon, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.

He said the Cabinet has agreed to declassify the report, which will reveal the alleged discrepancies in 16 land swap deals valued at RM4.9 billion, involving the ministry.

He said besides the Cabinet, the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption was also consulted before the decision to declassify the report was made.

“The Cabinet has agreed to release the report to the public soon,” Mohamad said in a news conference to commemorate Pakatan Harapan’s first-year anniversary in government.

In February, Mohamad revealed that the government had lost over RM500 million in land swap deals involving plots worth RM4.9 billion. He said the projects were implemented without detailed planning and developers were selected without due diligence.

The shady deals were exposed in a final report by the governance, procurement and finance committee headed by former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang. The committee revealed that the 16 land swap deals involved 2,923 acres (1,182.9ha) of land owned by the Defence Ministry.

It was alluded in the report that some deals were done with the intent to increase the number of voters in military camps during elections. This included bases in Paloh, located in Sembrong, Johor, and Hutan Melintang in Bagan Datuk, Perak.

The land swaps were allegedly used to create vote banks in the
constituencies of former federal ministers Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Both Hishammuddin and Ahmad Zahid served as the country’s defence minister, during which the land swap deals took place.

The land deals are currently being investigated by the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission.

On another development, Mohamad said the Defence White Paper is being drafted after gathering views and new ideas from various stakeholders including intellectuals, experts and industry players.

“We expect to table the White Paper in Parliament in October. At the moment, it is in the final stages and once completed, it will be the first for Malaysia,” he said, adding that Defence White Paper had been tabled in several countries namely Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.

Mohamad said the white paper will focus on optimising defence assets towards disaster operations in the country and in the region such as the recent flood in the Philippines and earthquakes in Indonesia.