Army camp projects in land swap deal used to buy votes, says Mindef man

Special officer to the defence minister Mohd Nasaie Ismail speaks to reporters outside the MACC office in Putrajaya.

PUTRAJAYA: A defence ministry official has revealed alleged malpractice in the ministry in the swapping of government land for projects which was reportedly used to buy army votes during the 14th general election.

Special officer to the defence minister Mohd Nasaie Ismail spoke of political interference in the Paloh and Hutan Melintang army camps located in Johor and Perak in the last polls.

“We found evidence of direct involvement of the Election Commission in an effort to move around and increase the number of army votes by members and their families in both of the camps,” he told reporters at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office here today.

Nasaie said initial plans to set up an army base in Port Dickson to cater to the deteriorating Rasah army camp were cancelled because of the “developments” at Paloh and Hutan Melintang.

“Both the Paloh and Hutan Melintang projects were given to the private sector, of which the lands involving the Kinrara camp in Selangor and Rasah camp in Negeri Sembilan were swapped,” he added.

Nasaie said the 11th Malaysia Plan did not include any projects in the Paloh and Hutan Melintang camps, which are located in the Sembrong and Bagan Datuk constituencies.

He also noted that the value of the Kinrara army base, which former prime minister Najib Razak and his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed was RM500 million, was put at RM758 million in May 2015 by the Valuation and Property Services Department.

“There were also instructions to start building both of the army bases without a final contract agreement between the government and the private company,” he added.

He said the Barisan Nasional administration had instructed the purchase of a 62-acre plot of land in Paloh for RM10.47 million, which was 43% higher than its market value.

“Members of the army were also moved to the Hutan Melintang Camp while it was still lacking a certificate of completion and compliance,” he added.

It was previously reported that an audit committee, headed by former auditor-general Ambrin Buang, had found political interference and absence of due diligence in 16 projects involving government land, which caused the government to lose some RM500 million.

The committee found there were 16 projects through land swaps of some 2,923 acres of Mindef land worth RM4.756 billion, with a total project cost of RM4.886 billion.

The final audit report was presented to the Cabinet last week.