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Defence Ministry’s land swap among three issues on PAC radar

18 Nov 2020 / 16:21 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee is set to probe three issues, namely the land swap involving the Defence Ministry, Automated Enforcement System (AES) and the 1Bestarinet system, from Nov 30.

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh (pix) said the issues were brought to its attention by the Governance, Procurement and Investigation committee (JKSTUPKK).

He said during Monday’s meeting with JKSTUPKK, its head, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who was the former auditor-general, informed them of the three issues.

He said PAC was of the opinion that these three merit proceedings to be brought against them.

The committee was set up in May 2018 to investigate acquisition and purchase of assets by ministries in terms of misappropriation, abuse of power or any financial waste.

Speaking at a press conference, Wong said JKSTUPKK had investigated 16 land swap deals involving 2,923 acres of government land valued at RM4.8 billion.

He said the land swap deals resulted in the government suffering losses because of inconsistent land valuations and cases where political considerations took precedence over defence interests.

“Land swap was a method used to develop the Defence Ministry’s facilities financed through the exchange of federal land with the private sector.

“It is intended to meet the development allocation requirements that are found to be insufficient for plans to upgrade and build new military facilities,“ he said.

Wong said the PAC will start its proceedings on the land swap by calling the first witness, the defence ministry’s secretary-general on Nov 30 and after that it will decide which other witnesses needs to be called.

On the AES, he said the issue was that the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) had paid RM555 million to take over the concession when the previous concessionaire had only invested RM40 million into the project.

He said JKSTUPKK investigated the rationale behind LTAT’s decision to invest such a huge sum in the acquisition of the AES company.

The AES project is an enforcement system initiative aimed at addressing the issue of road accidents in the country.

It was implemented by the Transport Ministry via outsourcing.

LTAT is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, Act 101, in 1973 to provide retirement and other benefits to members of other ranks and a savings scheme for officers of the armed forces.

On the 1BestariNet System Services Project, Wong said JKSTUPKK found weaknesses and negligence in the implementation of the project which led to its objectives not being met.

He said the RM2.71 billion project was implemented by the Education Ministry for eight years from 2011 to 2019.

He said the project aimed to furnish about 10,000 schools nationwide with high speed 4G internet access and a virtual learning platform or Virtual Learning Environment.

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