PAC doubtful of RM20m for flying car project

MITI and MIGHT were not informed on the direction of Malaysia’s air mobility, especially the ‘flying car’

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A REPORT by a parliamentary select committee claimed that Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) via Venture Tech Sdn Bhd (VTSB) had invested RM20 million in drone-maker Aerodyne Ventures Sdn Bhd.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that the funds were used to purchase an office space in Cyberjaya, renovation costs, purchase of drones, as well as research and development (R&D).

Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof (picture) has repeatedly denied that the government approved RM20 million in public funds to develop the “flying car” project.

Aerodyne, the company developing the project, received the money on Nov 1 this year, which was acknowledged by the Economic Affairs Ministry, the report shows.

The findings of the report also showed that even though Mohd Redzuan prompted the project as if it was a national project, it is in fact a private initiative.

“The PAC has found that the International Trade and Industries Ministry (MITI) and MIGHT were not referred at all on the direction of Malaysia’s air mobility, especially the ‘flying car’,” it said.

The committee chaired by MP Datuk Noraini Ahmad (Barisan Nasional-Parit Sulong) recommends VTSB to monitor more closely the expenses incurred by Aerodyne to ensure that the RM20 million of investment is used for its original and approved purpose.

The PAC also found the Cabinet was not informed on the “flying car” project and the announcement was made prematurely without proper planning.

“PAC’s inquiry determined that the entrepreneur development minister announced the matter before notifying the Cabinet or relevant agencies.

“The minister has been promoting Aerodyne publicly since February 2019. However, from the proceedings of the Parliament’s PAC, it is found that the government was not aware as to Aerodyne’s financials, intellectual property, expertise and capacity of developing a flying vehicle,” it added.

Additionally, contrary to Mohd Redzuan’s claims that Aerodyne uses local technology, the report shows that the prototype will be built in Japan as the country has the ecosystems and facilities to build “flying cars”. The report also noted that there are no existing laws related to the regulation and use of flying vehicles in Malaysia.

In the report, the committee recommends the government to carefully study and plan before a project is released to public knowledge to ensure that it does not cause negative perceptions and become a source of criticism by the society.

“A complete Cabinet Paper should be prepared and presented at the Cabinet meeting for approval on matters of national interest.

“The Entrepreneur Development Ministry should perform due diligence before making any announcements and decisions,” it said. The ministry was also advised to coordinate with internal agencies and other ministries and departments before implementing any government programmes or projects, especially those that receive extensive publicity.

In January this year, Mohd Redzuan said only part of the RM20 million, which was allocated for R&D for his ministry, will be used to develop the third national car prototype.

“The ministry is estimated to have RM20 million in R&D fund, and we are not using all of this (fund) to produce the prototype as we admit the cost to develop the prototype is much lower than that,” he said then, in response to views by certain quarters who disputed the ministry’s move to use government funds to develop the car project.