Mindef lodges 14 reports to MACC on land swap deals

Special officer says 13 of the projects are initiated for political considerations, as opposed to serving govt interest

by MARK RAO / pic by BERNAMA

REPORTS on the remaining 14 dubious land swap deals involving the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) were handed over to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday.

Mohd Nasaie Ismail, special officer for Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, said the 14 cases are on top of the two which were already filed by Mindef to the antigraft authority last February, namely involving Kem Paloh in Kluang, Johor, and Kem Hutang Melintang in Bagan Datuk, Perak.

He said only five of the 16 land swap projects were completed, while two are under construction, as of December last year. The remaining nine projects either failed to be completed, or are still pending sign-off.

Mohd Nasaie in a statement said 13 of the projects were initiated for political considerations, as opposed to serving government interest, including Kem Bera, Kem Segamat, Kem Paloh and Kem Hutan Melintang.

“The camps were built for political purposes, namely the transfer of voters prior to the 14th General Election to win certain Parliament and state seats,” the special officer said.

“They were not built for military strategy, but to further the political interests of certain parties.”

He said this comes after the review by the Election Commission which confirmed the findings of the governance, procurement and finance committee that led the investigations into the dubious land deals.

The investigations also revealed that the appointment of project executors contravened set guidelines, namely the prerequisites of experience and strong financial positions which meet the minimum 10% value of the project to be built.

“There were companies which only had less than 1% of the project value and companies who had track records of failing to complete past government projects, and cancelling the said projects which secured the project developments through the land swaps,” Mohd Nasaie added.

He said the issue caused projects to be delayed for as long as 11 years before being completed.

There were also four projects where the valuations of the land swaps were lower than what was appraised by the Valuation and Property Services Department, causing the government to incur a land value loss of as high as RM166 million, he added.

Additionaly, only two of the 16 land swap arrangements, namely the National Defence Institute project in Putrajaya and the TUDM 323 Squadron Facilities in Johor, are part of Mindef’s strategic development plan.

The remainder 14 are not included in the ministry’s development plan which means these are non-priority projects, Mohd Nasaie said.

Investigations also found that 10 land swap projects were initiated by private parties themselves, where-o by they identified the land to be reclaimed before proposing the development to be considered by Mindef.

“This caused the project planning to occur on an ad hoc basis, resulting in many delays and the government to incur increasing land value loss and higher construction costs,” he claimed.

The 16 land swap projects involve 2,932 acres (1186.54) of federal land valued at RM4.7 billion and earmarked for as much as RM4.8 billion worth in projects.

However, project delays, awards of additional contracts not included in the initial development plan and the valuation of land swaps falling below its appraised value caused the government to incur an estimated RM515.21 million in losses, Mohd Nasaie said.

Apart from the monetary loss, he said Mindef is concerned about the compromising of the ministry’s strategic position as a result of these failed land swap projects.

“In the spirit of the defending the sovereignty of the country and ensuring these issues are not repeated under the new government, reports will be filed to MACC for further action.”

Mohamad revealed earlier this month that direct orders from federal ministers, dubious contract awards and the relocation of thousands of army personnel were among the issues surrounding the land swaps

He added that the prime minister (PM) and defence ministers under the previous government meddled in 13 of the 16 land deals.

Last week, The Malaysian Reserve reported that a source has revealed that the ministers involved were former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, both of the latter having been defence ministers at the material time.