PETALING JAYA: Former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein says he will leave it to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate controversial land swap deals involving the Defence Ministry (Mindef).
“Give space to MACC to investigate all 16 land swaps involving administrations under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1997 to Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2018.
“Any further comments and information regarding this matter should be referred directly to MACC,” he said, adding that the anti-graft body should not spare anyone in the investigations.
One of the individuals who may be hauled up is Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who served as defence minister from 2009 to 2013.
An aide to the former deputy prime minister said Ahmad Zahid had declined to comment on the issue.
The scandal first came to light when current Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu disclosed on Feb 21 that some of his predecessors had swapped land and built army bases despite opposition from the armed forces.
It was alleged that army bases were built on the orders of the previous administration so that voters could be transferred to areas that were politically strategic to them.
Losses running over RM500mil were allegedly incurred from the land swap deals.
The land spanned 1186.9ha and was said to be worth RM4.8bil, with the cost of the projects totalling RM4.9bil.
Following the revelations, three former defence ministers denied abusing military assets to secure votes. The three were Najib, Ahmad Zahid and Hishammuddin.
On May 9, Mohamad tabled the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee’s (GPFIC) report on the controversial land projects in Parliament.
The report disclosed that the government land was transferred before projects were completed.
The committee also found that no comprehensive due diligence was carried out to assess the financial and technical capability of the companies involved, leading to the delay and failure of such projects.
Among the causes for the losses were inconsistent use of the method to determine the value of the replacement land.
Planning for the projects was also lacking, as only two of the 16 projects were contained in the Ministry of Defence Development Plan.
Several projects were also found to have been implemented without considering the views of agencies such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Finance Ministry.
Mindef had applied to re-evaluate all the replacement lands involved in the privatisation projects.
Starting May 13, full reports of the land swap deals were made public.
GPFIC said it would not only look into the land swap deals, but also the maintenance and purchase of military assets.
It was reported recently that MACC is investigating the alleged bribery in awarding projects to supply equipment for Mindef’s military armoured vehicles.
The contracts were estimated to be valued at RM17mil, according to sources.
The company’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer were arrested on May 12.
The two had allegedly received hundreds of thousands of ringgit
in kickbacks in connection with approving projects to supply equipment for the vehicles between 2014 and 2017.
Another individual, a 39-year-old company owner who holds a Datuk Seri title, was arrested on May 20 in relation to the case.