Weakness, negligence exist in MOD land swap projects

09 May 2019 / 23:34 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The investigation on the land swap project under the Ministry of Defence (MOD) found elements of weaknesses and negligence in terms of governance other than the involvements of the administrative members, namely, former prime minister and former Defence Minister in 13 of the 16 land swap projects.

According to the Final Report of the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee (GPFIC), which conducted an investigation from July to December 2018, the weaknesses, including in the planning and procurement, had resulted in not fully meeting the original aim of the projects to boost the national military preparedness.

This also impacted on the moral of the military personnel because it was closely tied to the places they were stationed and more comfortable accommodations.

“The projects have also result in an actual loss, including the court claims for failed projects, namely, Skudai 7 Brigade Headquarters Development at Lot 2967, 2763 and 2764 Mukim Pulai, Johor, of RM1.48 billion.

“This involved a demand on the land bond, implementation bond, difference in the value of land and the land bond, building maintenance cost and houses of the families of military personnel and the cost of building new camps,“ said the report.

“A check with the Election Commission (EC) also confirmed that several army camps including the Bera Camp, Segamat Camp, Paloh Camp (Kinrara Land Swap) and Hutan Melintang Camp were built for political aim and interest, namely, the transfer of voters before the 14th General Election.

“The presence of EC representatives during visits to sites at Bera Camp, Segamat Camp and Hutan Melintang Camp showed that the constructions of the camps were due to the political interests of the members of the administration specifically a strategy to win the 14th General Election for the areas involved and not a military strategy,“ said the report.

The report clarified that a memo from the political secretary of the Minister of Defence clearly stated that priority should be given to the construction of the Paloh Camp for political importance in the Sembrong Parliament which led to the letter of directive being issued to the company concerned to purchase land and commence construction without any contract being signed first.

In addition, the planning of the projects were also found to be weak when only two of the 16 projects, namely, National Defence Study Centre and TUDM 323 Squadron Facility, Bukit Banang, Johor which were identified contained in the Ministry of Defence Development Plan, while 14 other projects were not priorities to the ministry.

As such, the committee suggested that several actions must be carried out to ensure the interests of the government continued to be protected especially those involving procurement and implementations of development projects involving high allocations.

Among the proposals included renegotiating land swap projects in the interest of the government, not continuing land swap projects/no additional contracts, implementing land swap projects via open tender, registrar’s caveat on land replacements for projects which were not fully completed and the need for comprehensive planning of projects.

The report also suggested a deeper due diligence to evaluate the capabilities of the companies involved in the projects in all aspects especially financially and technically.

It also suggested that investigation and further action be taken on officers who were found to have flouted the rules and adversely affected the interests of the government including disciplinary action on officers who were found to be negligent and had flouted the stipulated rules and Standard Operating Procedure.

“The report will also be submitted to the authorities such as the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) if elements of crime and corruption existed,“ said the report.

It also suggested that firm action be taken against officers found to be negligent in carrying out their duties resulting in losses for the government, but at the same time, improvements based on the above suggestions must be implemented so that the interests of the government were assured. — Bernama

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