Prior to November’s Malacca state polls, the Umno state government led by Sulaiman Md Ali was pushing for a mega reclamation project called the Melaka Waterfront Economic Zone (M-WEZ).
Covering 33km of coastline and eight state assembly constituencies, it promised to attract billions of ringgit in investments. The mega project was also included in BN’s manifesto for the election.
With construction expected to take up 25,000 acres of land, it will create drastic changes to the Malacca coastline.
Concerns over the project were raised during the election, especially with regard to its impact on fishing.
At present, a new Klebang reclamation project under the M-WEZ blueprint is in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) stage.
A check by Malaysiakini on the EIA report and developers’ profiles found that Umno leaders are linked to the project.
Two Malacca Umno veterans, state party deputy chief Mohamad Ali Mohamad and former deputy exco Ghazale Muhamad, are directly involved.
Mohamad Ali, 57, is also a senator and the current Dewan Negara deputy president.
Companies under Mohammad Ali and Ghazale own the concession areas under the proposed project.
Their companies were awarded 300 acres during the period when BN/Umno was ruling the state and Ghazale was the deputy exco overseeing related matters.
This has raised the question of possible conflict of interest.
Dormant firms awarded concession areas
According to the EIA report submitted by Konsortium Pembangunan Tanah Laut (Melaka) Sdn Bhd, the proposed reclamation project which was named Project AJA is located some 5km from Pekan Klebang, Central Malacca District.
An appendix document from the EIA report showed that the former Malacca BN government awarded 300 acres (the size of about 226 football fields) of reclamation concession areas to four companies.
The agreements were signed between June 2016 and February 2017.
The four companies are Dewi Pertiwi Development Sdn Bhd (DPDSB), Golden Straits Development Sdn Bhd (GSDSB), Nusa Waja Sdn Bhd (NWSB) and BBM Ventures Sdn Bhd (BBM).
According to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) records, the four companies are in dormant status, with their latest financial information showing their revenue as “zero”.
Of the four, BBM has the worst financial status – it lost RM107,699 in 2016.
According to their respective profiles, BBM deals with mineral exploration while the others are involved in the land reclamation business.
The oldest of the four, NWSB, was formed in 2007, whereas BBM was only set up in January 2015, two years before it was awarded the concession areas.
Firms controlled by Mohamad Ali and wife
CCM data revealed that Mohamad Ali and his wife Rosefouziah Salleh are the shareholders of the four companies.
The couple fully owns three of the companies – DPDSB, GSDSB and NWSB.
In the recent Malacca state election, Mohamad Ali, who made his debut as a BN candidate, lost by a 530-vote majority in the Sungai Udang constituency.
For BBM Ventures, besides Mohamad Ali and his wife, former Rim assemblyperson Ghazale is also listed as a shareholder.
The Umno veteran holds a 40 percent stake in the firm while the rest is owned by Mohamad Ali and his wife.
An online check showed that Ghazale was appointed as deputy exco for financial, land, economic planning, investment, industry and other state matters after GE13 in 2013, during Idris Haron’s term as chief minister.
During the same period, Ghazale was the deputy exco for matters related to sea, river and islands’ development.
It must be noted that the concession areas were awarded by the state’s economic planning unit (UPEN) under the CM’s Office.
Since Ghazale was the chief minister’s deputy in handling the issues, it leads to the question of a possible conflict of interest.
After the fall of the Pakatan Harapan state government in 2020, Ghazale became the deputy speaker for the state assembly until it was dissolved last October.
State govt promised to obtain approvals
According to an agreement signed by the developer and the state government, once the reclamation project is completed, the state government shall receive a one-sixth portion of the reclaimed land. These lands will become “government land”.
Meanwhile, if the developer requests assistance, the state government shall assist the companies to obtain all necessary approvals to ensure that the proposed project is “duly approved and endorsed speedily by the relevant authorities”.
Gene & Quin Holdings Sdn Bhd, one of the parent companies of the project developer, announced on its website that the project will comprise housing, commercial areas, seafront marina development and waterfront yacht facilities.
Malaysiakini has reached out to Mohammad Ali, Ghazale and Gene & Quin Holdings (a parent company of Konsortium Pembangunan Tanah Laut (Melaka)) for comments.
During the Malacca state election, BN promised to implement the M-WEZ project, which was described as a “game-changer” for the state economy.
However, both Harapan and Perikatan opposed the project on the grounds that it would impact local fishing activities. – Malaysiakini