Patriot finds it appalling for former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein to challenge Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and his deputy Liew Chin Tong to state if he had personally benefited from Mindef land swap deals.
Hishammuddin threw the challenge after the defence minister tabled a report in the Senate that had been prepared by the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee headed by former Auditor General Ambrin Buang.
The investigating committee reportedly discovered losses and leakages through 16 land-swap projects involving 1,186ha of military land and a loss of more than RM500m.
Thirteen of the 16 land-swap deals reportedly involved the former defence minister and former prime minister.
The implementation of the land swap deals was 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.
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There was also “outrageous interference for political interest” and in choosing the land swap locations specifically to help BN politicians win votes, as was widely reported regarding 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.
Whether Hishammuddin directly benefited from the notorious deals is up to the investigations of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to establish.
Patriot urges investigations to be conducted swiftly, bringing to book all previous defence ministers who served from 1997 to May 2018 if there are grounds for suspicion.
Action should 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, like what the finance ministry has successfully done.
Hishammuddin has to take responsibility for the land swap fiasco that happened during his tenure as the defence minister, whether he personally benefited or not. It is a big shame that he knows no shame.
His advice to Mohamad Sabu and Liew Chin Tong – “If they live in glass houses, don’t throw stones” – is a laughable attempt to deflect guilt to the current defence minister and his deputy and is akin to putting a veil over one’s guilt.
Like one in a similar flock, the trait could be observed in the behaviour of his former boss who shamefully proclaimed “Malu apa, bossku”.
Retired Brigadier General Mohamed Arshad Raji is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.