PAC to investigate Mindef’s land swap deals

pic by BERNAMA

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will begin its probe on land swap deals made under the Ministry Of Defence (Mindef) starting Nov 30, following a briefing by the special investigation committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK).

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh (picture) said the committee decided to hold a proceeding on land swap deals made between 1995 and 2018 under the ministry.

“The parliamentary PAC will begin probing the land swap deals under Mindef by calling the ministry’s secretary general, who is a government officer, as the first witness to give his statement and explanation on the issue on Nov 30.

“The PAC will then decide if it will call other witnesses involved in the issue,” he told a press conference at the Parliament yesterday.

He explained that land swap is a method used to develop the ministry’s facilities funded via the exchange of federal lands with private parties. It is meant to bear insufficient funds needed to improve and develop facilities for the military.

According to Wong, JKSTUPKK investigated 16 land swap cases involving 2,923 acres (1,183ha) of government land valued at RM4.8 billion.

“The PAC was informed that one of the issues surfaced in the land swap is related to government losses due to the inconsistent methods used to determine the value of the land and political considerations that outweigh defence interests,” he said.

Besides the land swap issue, JKSTUPKK also brought forward issues concerning the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) from 2012 until 2018 by the Transport Ministry and the 1BestariNet service system from 2011 until 2019 under the Education Ministry (MoE).

He said the special committee had conducted investigations on the rationale of the RM555 million investment made by the Armed Forces Fund Board for the takeover of AES’ concession company although the initial value of the company was only RM40 million.

The AES is an initiative to tackle road accidents through the “perception of being caught” approach, he said.

As for the 1BestariNet system, Wong said it was initiated by the MoE with an overall cost of RM2.71 billion and has been in operations for eight years.

“The objective of this project is to equip 10,000 schools with 4G Internet and virtual learning environments.

“JKSTUPKK has reported its analysis on the weakness and negligence in governance that disabled this project from achieving its objective,” he added.

The JKSTUPKK was formed by the government in May 2018 to investigate suspicious procurement cases and purchase of assets by ministries in terms of abuse of power, wastage of government’s funds and corruption.

Read our earlier report here