PETALING JAYA: Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein today urged Putrajaya to reclaim RM1.48 billion lost in the failed land swap deal involving the Plentong and Tebrau districts in Johor.
The deal, covering 382.16 acres, had been approved by the Cabinet in 1996 but was eventually cancelled.
Hishammuddin, in a statement, said when he was defence minister, he had felt the need to take stern action on the failed deal and, on Nov 2, 2015, the ministry had initiated a suit against the company at the KL High Court.
However, he said that on Feb 17, 2017, the company failed to honour the terms of the agreement, even when the ministry had tried its level best to help, as required under the consent judgement.
“Considering the seriousness of this issue, I ordered the ministry to file a second writ of summons over the company’s failure, with a claim for RM1.48 billion.
“I hereby urge the government to follow up by reclaiming RM1.48 billion from this failed project.
“The reality is that the losses suffered are the biggest recorded by the Government Administrative, Acquisition and Financial Investigative Committee,” he said, adding the committee and ministry needed to really focus on getting the money back.
The Sembrong MP said based on the report, out of 16 land swap deals arranged by the defence ministry, seven contracts have yet to be signed.
“If the ministry is really against the deals in lieu of the expected losses, I suggest that the ministry not proceed with these seven deals.
“If it’s true that the land swap mechanism brings no benefit or good to the military, I urge the government to come up with an alternative solution which is more effective and cost-saving.
“This is to ensure all interested parties benefit as a whole and not merely point fingers,” he said.
Hishammuddin supported the move by the ministry to lodge reports with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on all 16 land swap deals.
He said he had also asked his representative to lodge a report with MACC to take the necessary action on the 16 land swap deals.
“We will hand over any information we have straight to MACC to assist in investigations,” he said.
Hishammuddin added that MACC should now be accorded the space to investigate the deals and that the minister himself should not resort to playing politics.