PETALING JAYA: Defence ministers who served from 1997 to May 2018 should be brought to book if there are grounds for suspicion in land swap deals involving the defence ministry, says National Patriots Association (Patriot) president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji.
Mohamed Arshad said it was appalling for former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to challenge current minister Mohamad Sabu and his deputy Liew Chin Tong to state if he personally benefited from the land swap deals.
“It was reported that the investigating committee discovered losses and leakages through 16 land-swap projects involving 1,186ha of military land, and a loss of more than RM500 million. It was also reported that 13 of the 16 land-swap deals involved the former defence minister and former prime minister,“ Arshad said in a statement yesterday.
“The land swap deals were not planned thoroughly and no proper due diligence was conducted when appointing developers, resulting in uncompleted projects, completed projects of unsatisfactory quality, and projects not even started. There was also ‘outrageous interference for political interest and in choosing the land swap locations specifically to help Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians win votes, as was widely reported regarding the four camps – Hutan Melintang in Perak, Segamat and Paloh in Johor, and Bera in Pahang. It is a crying shame that some of the camps had to be closed down after the general election,“ he added.
Arshad said it is up to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police to find out if Hishammuddin directly benefited from the deals.
“Patriot urges that investigations be conducted swiftly, bringing to book all previous defence ministers who served from 1997 to May 2018 if there are grounds for suspicion.
Action must be taken against those officials who failed to ensure that the land swap deals were conducted in accordance with standard operating procedures.
“For projects that have not started, and even those ongoing, renegotiation is needed,“ he said.