Army bases built allegedly to secure politicians’ positions.
Alleging political meddling during Barisan Nasional (BN) rule, Defence Ministry special officer Mohd Nasaie Ismail today lodged an official complaint with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the exchange of two plots of land where the military have set up bases.
He said the development of the two military camps, which are in Paloh, Johor, and Hutan Melintang, Perak, was not part of the 11th Malaysia Plan and had caused huge losses to the government.
“These two camps were part of a land swap with Kinrara camp in Selangor, and Rasah camp in Negri Sembilan.
“It was found that there was excessive political involvement, which had led to the development of the projects,” he told reporters outside the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya.
According to Nasaie, the land swaps had taken place before the 14th general election last May.
Umno leaders Hishammuddin Hussein, who is Semberong MP, and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is Bagan Datuk MP, are alleged to have benefited from an influx of military voters in their constituencies. Military personnel are expected to vote for Barisan Nasional.
Nasaie said he will file more reports on the same matter with the MACC.
Aside from the Paloh and Hutan Melintang camps, those built in Segamat and Bera are also said to be questionable.
“We have proof of specific political orders and the Election Commission’s direct involvement in moving and increasing the number of army voters and their families in the two camps in these two parliamentary constituencies,” said Nasaie.
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, popularly referred to as Mat Sabu, says the four deals were specifically made to help politicians win elections, The Star reported.
These projects went ahead despite opposition from the Armed Forces and the army bases were set up to move army personnel voters, he claimed.
“The Armed Forces had said there was no need for army bases in those four places, but Mindef ignored these protests and went ahead, essentially to ensure a vote bank so that certain politicians could continue to win their parliamentary constituencies in the past general elections,” Mohamad was reported as saying.
Mohamad pointed out that this was an abuse of power and authority for selfish personal reasons.
“We are not against land swaps in Mindef as sometimes that is a wise decision because prime land can be exchanged for better housing land elsewhere, on which we can build better facilities for our army personnel.
“However, these land swaps that we complained about are the ones politicians profited from by moving army personnel for their own gain, despite opposition from the army itself,” Mohamad added.
He further alleged that the deals were made in a “haphazard” manner and resulted in a loss of more than RM500 million in public funds.
“If these land swaps were done according to proper planning and the developers were selected properly, Mindef would not have lost so much money.
“However, they were done in a haphazard manner and Mindef lost about half a billion ringgit,” he was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday (Feb 19), Mohamad had said that these lopsided projects involved 1,186 hectares of Defence Ministry land valued at RM4.75 billion, with project costs of RM4.88 billion.
Losses and leakages occurred through a total of 16 projects, some dating as far back as 1997.
This is revealed in a detailed report by a special investigation committee on procurement, governance and finance led by former auditor-general Ambrin Buang.
Last year, prior to the 14th Gen¬eral Election, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 had reported that thousands of army personnel were being moved into army camps under construction and being registered as postal voters in that area.
They had named the stated four army camps and questioned why army personnel who did not live there before were being allowed to vote in the area.
A source formerly with the army said those involved in the alleged deals were from the higher ranks, The Star reported.
“Some of them were retired generals and it is sad that their obedience is more to politicians than to the King and country, as all army personnel are supposed to be,” said the source.
The leaders of the former BN regime who served as defence minister from 1997 until May 9 last year are Syed Hamid Albar, Najib Abdul Razak, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Hishamuddin Hussein.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin denied the allegation, saying it was an “outright lie”.
He also said he welcomed investigations into him and others who have held the defence portfolio.
“I have nothing to hide,” Hishammuddin said in a Facebook post today.
He added that the findings regarding the losses were just a distraction from the Pakatan Harapan government’s lack of leadership.
“It is not a secret that the Harapan government’s main aim is to dig up as much as they can to find faults with the previous government, instead of running the government.
“These findings are merely a distraction for the rakyat from the fact that they are not performing at all. I must repeat yet again – it is time for the (defence) minister to take the lead.
“It is time for them to take care of our armed forces and their families, it is time for them to care for the welfare of our military veterans who have served to protect the nation. Enough is enough,” he said.