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 which 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, Hishammuddin had said he had nothing to hide.
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong says some land deals were done to move army camps in order to shore up support for then government leaders in marginal parliamentary seats. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, March 10, 2019. 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.
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong says there were no military strategic value in the moving of several army camps under the previous BN administration.
“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.”
Source : Malaysian Must Know The Truth