MACC may question Zahid on Mindef land swap deals

Investigation process has started following a report lodged by a Mindef officer in February, says deputy chief commissioner

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) could call former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to assist in the investigation of the various Defence Ministry (Mindef) land swap deals.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operation) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said the investigation process has begun following the report lodged by the Mindef officer in February.

“We have to look at it first, but I cannot rule out the possibility to call anyone who was involved (on the matter),” Azam said when asked if Ahmad Zahid could be one of them.

“We are looking at all of the reports lodged by all parties and (will) investigate any cases involving the corruption and abuse of power under our purview,” Azam told reporters at the closing ceremony of the anti-corruption training for officers of Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

He added that no arrest has been made at press time.

According to Azam, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who succeeded Ahmad Zahid in 2013, had also lodged a report to the anti-graft agency last week.

Special officer to current Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Mohd Nasaie Ismail, had also handed over some 14 questionable land swap deal reports to the MACC, on top of the two reports which were already filed in February.

“We need to know what are the crimes involved. So, we need time to look at the audit report (of GPFIC) that was submitted to the MACC,” Azam said.

All the 16 projects were cases investigated by the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee (GPFIC) led by former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

The committee revealed that the government had lost RM515.21 million due to extensions given for projects which failed to meet the deadline, additional contracts that were not in the initial project plan and plots of land that were evaluated lower than current market prices.

Mohd Nasaie claimed that 13 of the projects of the military camp were initiated purely for political considerations, as opposed to serving the government’s interest.

It includes Kem Bera, Kem Segamat, Kem Paloh and Kem Hutan Melintang.

He said they were meant to transfer voters from the army side that benefitted some political parties in winning certain parliamentary and state seats in the 14th General Election.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had pledged legal action on those who are involved in the scandal, including “retired” personnel.

Recently, The Malaysian Reserve reported that a source has revealed that Ahmad Zahid, Hishammuddin and former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak are the ministers allegedly involved in the scandal.

Additionally, Azam said the MACC is “aggressively” probing the RM17 million contracts in supplying military equipment scandal, with three individuals arrested by the commission so far.

They were alleged to have accepted money from several contractors, who wanted to secure deals in supplying equipment for military armoured vehicles.

“It is still in the beginning stage. Many witnesses will be called up, however, I cannot reveal how many of them,” he said.

On a separate matter, Azam said the MACC has opened up 70 investigation papers relating to the Penang Road Transport Department officers who have been receiving bribes from lorry operators.

“We are finalising the investigation and we are trying to conclude according to the standard operating procedure. There are about 70 papers which we will have to vet through,” he said.

On the Taman Rimba Kiara redevelopment deal in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, Azam said the MACC is speeding up the investigation process before submitting the probe paper to the deputy public prosecutor for further action.