Fall out from the Mindef land swaps: Who will be investigated? Charged/Punished?

15 May 2019

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The Election Commission should hold an inquiry whether it had acted unlawfully in complying with the directive by the previous Najib government to illegally transfer military voters to shore up the support for four Ministers for the 14th General Election – Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi (Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister), Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (Defence Minister), Datuk Seri Ibrahim Sabry Yaakob (Minister for Rural and Regional Development) and Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam (Minister for Health).

Last Wednesday, the Election Commission Chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said the Election Commission is awaiting a full audit report by a special investigation committee on procurement, governance  and finance in the Defence Ministry led by former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang appointed by the new Pakatan Harapan Government.

The Ambrin audit report had  reported that EC officials were complicit in aiding the ministry in the transfer of military voters to camps built in Bera (Pahang), Segamat (Johor), Paloh (Johor) and Hutan Melintang (Perak) in time to
be eligible to vote in the GE14. 

Such collusion of EC officials with the Defence Ministry to illegally and undemocratically shore up the support of Cabinet Ministers in the ensuing  14th General Election was not only a flagrant  abuse of power by the Najib government but an impermissible abuse of the democratic process.

However, as saying goes “Man proposes, God disposes”, and  one of the four Minsters could not escape the dragnet in the winds of change which blew strong and wide in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018.

But the three more fortunate former Ministers, Zahid, Hishammuddin and Ismail Sabry Yaakob of the turtle-egg fame should state whether they
welcome an inquiry as to whether their election was unlawful, undemocratic  and should  therefore be declared null and void.

Former Defence Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein made a very intriguing statement when he challenged the  Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and his  deputy Liew Chin Tong to prove that he
benefitted from land swap deals struck under his tenure.

The former defence minister was responding  to claims that the government lost more than RM500 million in the land swaps.

As far as I am aware, both Mohamad Sabu and Liew Chin Tong have not made any allegation that Hishammuddin had personally benefited financially.

But what was most intriguing was Hishammuddin’s cryptic remark:

“My advice to them both, if they live in glass houses, don’t throw stones.”

Hishammuddin should explain himself what he meant by this remark, which does not appear to be a declaration of innocence, and clearly a statement that his father, Tun Hussein Onn, known for his uncompromising stand against corruption, would have approved.

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Wednesday, 15th May 2019)

Election Commission should hold an inquiry whether it had acted unlawfully in  complying with the  directive  by the previous Najib government to illegally transfer military voters to shore up the support for four Ministers – Zahid Hamidi, Hishammuddin Hussein, Ibrahim Sabry Yaakob and S. Subramaniam

14 May 2019

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PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix) today said the police will investigate anyone, even the prime minister, over any involvement in the Defence Ministry’s (Mindef) land-swap deals.

“Nobody is above the law,“ Dr Mahathir said when asked to comment on the summary report on Mindef land-swap projects even during his first term as the prime minister.

Asked whether any action could be taken against retired officers if they were found be involved in wrongdoings in the land swaps, Dr Mahathir said: “Yes, the government still can take action”.

At a press conference after chairing the eighth Cabinet Select Committee on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR) meeting here today, Dr Mahathir stressed that the intention was to bring reports on wrongdoing done in the past, and legal action would be taken against those involved whether they were in office or not.

It was reported that Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had recently disclosed political interference in land deals within his ministry dating back to 1997.

https://www.thesundaily.my/local/mindef-land-swaps-nobody-above-the-law-says-dr-mahathir-GN870091

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PETALING JAYA: The Defence Ministry’s report on its controversial land swap deals that was made public was not properly prepared for publication.

The 59-page Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee (GPFIC) report released last week had 31 parts that were edited with the “black highlighter” feature on the PDF document.

However, many Malaysians were quick to realise that the use of a black highlighter to keep secret the identities of the companies and financial institutions involved in the

multimillion ringgit deals were easily undone with a simple copy-and-paste onto a text editor.

When contacted, Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong acknowledged the error but refused to comment.

“The ministry will be releasing 16 more reports over the next few days which will be appropriately redacted,” he said.

The initial version of the report was first released on the ministry’s website after Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu tabled it in the Dewan Negara last Thursday.

The probe by the GPFIC, headed by former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, revealed that lower valuation than market price, weaknesses in contract management and “outrageous” interference for political interests were among the reasons the Defence Ministry lost more than RM500mil from several land swap deals.

Liew described efforts to get to the bottom of the land swap deals as a “major achievement” by Mohamad since he became Defence Minister.

“This is the first time that such deals are being scrutinised in such detail.

“It will not only change the way the ministry operates with regard to land swap deals in the future, but also how the government operates,” he said.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/14/mindef-updates-land-swap-report/#dAztbAfJ4MDYGrR3.99

19 March 2019

Malay Mail @malaymail

Mindef land swap deals done in contravention of financial regulations, says PM

PUTRAJAYA, March 19 — The final report from the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee on Ministry of Defence (Mindef) land swap deals reveals that the land swap method used by the previous government is in contravention of financial regulations.

In fact, in the report, the investigating committee also identified other land swap deals which contravened the government procurement procedures, with some of the deals being done with the purpose to increase the number of voters in military camps during elections.

The report was tabled at the Cabinet Select Committee on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, here today.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Dr Mahathir said the camps were built for election purposes, which to enable military personnel to be stationed and cast their votes in certain constituencies.

“This is an offence. We found that many land swap deals were done to build such camps. There are cases in which some camps were closed right after the elections,” he said.

According to the statement issued by the JKKMAR after the meeting, legal action would be taken against those involved in the issue.

Last month, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu disclosed that the two military camps in Paloh, Johor, and in Hutan Melintang, Perak, were not part of the ministry’s need, but were built on the instructions of the previous Barisan Nasional government to have their voters transferred to the areas in order to achieve their political agenda.

Mindef had also submitted its internal investigation report on the land swap deals involving the two camps to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission after finding that it had incurred a great amount of losses to the government and had compromised the national strategic interests. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/19/mindef-land-swap-deals-done-in-contravention-of-financial-regulations-says/1734337

10 March 2019

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BOMBSHELL – HISHAM FACES RM500 MILLION CORRUPTION PROBE: HIS AIDES IDENTIFIED BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING MINDEF LAND SWAPS, MACC REPORT LODGED https://t.co/CANSmEs0eQ

FORMER defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s aides were involved in the armed forces land swap deals which caused losses amounting to RM500 million to the ministry, said Liew Chin Tong.

The deputy defence minister said this was discovered by the Special Investigations Committee (SIC) chaired by former auditor-general Ambrin Buang.

“The report names the officers who were attached to Hishammuddin at the time as being linked with the deals.  

“The (then) minister’s personal officers were implicated (in the deals). The report has been sent to MACC,” he told The Malaysian Insight in a recent interview.

He was referring to the findings of a special committee whih had reported that losses were incurred by the Defence Ministry in 16 land swap projects since 1997. These included the building of four military camps for political purposes, including one in Paloh which falls under the Sembrong constituency held by Hishammuddin.

The committee was set up by the Pakatan Harapan administration to look into the procurement and administrative procedures of the previous government.

Following the findings of the comamittee (sic), Hishammuddin had said he had nothing to hide.

Liew, meanwhile, said the land swap deals were done solely for Barisan Nasional’s political interest and not for strategic military purposes.

“The two clear cases are the Paloh camp, which is in Hishamudddin’s constituency in Johor and the Hutan Melintang camp in Bagan Datuk, which is Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s constituency.”  

He said two other camps were built in Segamat, Johor and Bera in Pahang. The then MP for Segamat was former MIC president and health minister Dr S. Subramaniam while Umno leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob is the MP for Bera.

“These four camps were constructed purely on the basis for political purposes. They were built in marginal seats in order to strengthen the position of BN in those areas.

“Paloh was the only camp for which they could not shift in the voters in time,” Liew said.

He said that the move (to relocate the bases) was bad for the nation because the previous government had viewed the camps as vote banks and built military facilities not for strategic defensive purposes.

“This shall never be repeated and we should do everything to prevent it.

“Those camps were not part of any military strategy. It was to strengthen the marginal seats. There was political interference to benefit selected political masters.”  

Liew said that another issue to look at was the acts of developers in wanting the ministry’s land bank for commercial purposes.
.

They (developers) wanted urban land in certain places and in order to get them, the armed forces had to be moved.

“The developers are the ones who proposed the land swaps. It was not because the military wanted to move.

“It’s because the land was in the middle of the city and was deemed a valuable land bank.”

He said as a result, the armed forces were forced to relocate to places close to the jungle.

“This was one of Ambrin’s main criticisms on the land swaps that happened over the years.”

He gave examples of how the old palace (now the Royal Museum along Jalan Istana) and the official residences of armed forces chief and the defence minister had been relocated as a result of land swaps.

He said the places were originally built to be close to the Sg Besi camp.

“When they planned it years ago, there was consideration that if there is an emergency, the Sg Besi air base can serve as an urban evacuation point.

“But today, because of 1Malaysia Development Bhd taking over the land, the military has been pushed to Sedayan in Seremban.”

the malaysian insight

https://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/?p=159453

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Mindef land swaps used to boost voter base for #Hishammuddin, #Zahid Hamidi #myedgeprop https://t.co/iiNuLmczCU https://t.co/nF9XGlal91

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Hishammuddin’s aides implicated in land swap deals, says Chin Tong https://t.co/mYlBbnOCyh

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23 February 2019

Geronimo Miller @geronimomiller

Syed Mokhtar’s company confirms it was involved in RM500m land swap deal with MINDEFThe Edge Markets
Syed Mokhtar’s company confirms it was involved in RM500m land swap deal with MINDEF
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 23): Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd (KVSB), a company owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, has confirmed a report by The Edge Financial Daily that it was the private party in a…

theedgemarkets.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 23): Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd (KVSB), a company owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, has confirmed a report by The Edge Financial Daily that it was the private party in a controversial land swap deal with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) involving the Royal Malaysian Air Force land in Kinrara, Puchong.

However, it clarified that the land had been valued by the company at RM500 million, based on its existing condition — without taking into account the future conversion premium that need to be paid (for commercial and residential status), and other restrictions and conditions that may be imposed by the Selangor state government for future development.

In a letter to the daily, it said in return for the land, the company entered into an arrangement with MINDEF to build three new facilities for the ministry at RM499.9 million in total.

The new facilities are: a new army camp at Kem Paloh, Kluang, Johor, at a cost of RM280.7 million, a new logistics management training centre (pusat latihan pengurusan logistik) at Sendayan, Negeri Sembilan at RM137.3 million, and a new air force base (Markas Tentera Udara 2) at Kementah, Kuala Lumpur, at RM81.9 million.

KVSB also clarified that the land-swap deal and the agreement to build the facilities have yet to be signed between KVSB and MINDEF, but that the company had — at the request of MINDEF — agreed to start construction works for Kem Paloh.

As KVSB is of the view that the daily’s article “does not reflect the true nature of the arrangement between KVSB and the Ministry of Defence”, it said the report is “erroneous and misleading”.

In the article published on Friday, the daily reported, quoting sources, that KVSB was involved in a politically-motivated land swap deal with MINDEF, under which the ministry had lost RM258 million by selling the Kinrara plot in Puchong at a 34% discount to the company.

It also reported that Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu’s special functions officer, Mohd Nasasie Ismail, had told reporters on Thursday that the land, measuring 101.81 acre (41.2ha), had been swapped for RM500 million although it had been valued at RM758 million by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) in May 2015.

In return, Nasasie said the private firm — which he did not name — would build three new facilities for the ministry: a new military base in Paloh, the new air force base, and a new logistics training centre.

Nasasie said the ministry had also overvalued the land in Paloh, which it acquired via a land swap at a 43% premium. The 62-acre (25ha) plot had been acquired by MINDEF at RM10.47 million, although JPPH valued the land at only RM7.28 million. The valuation was also done in 2015.

Nasasie was speaking to reporters at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Agency (MACC) headquarters, where he went to submit the findings on the two land swaps based on the final report on the matter from the special committee investigating governance, procurement and finance headed by former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

On Wednesday, MINDEF revealed that government funds in excess of RM500 million is believed to have been leaked via 16 of the ministry’s land swap deals.

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/syed-mokhtars-company-confirms-it-was-involved-land-swap-deal-mindef#.XHFIqEz8Ptc.twitter

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