PKR Wanita urges new MACC chief to look into Mindef land swap deal

PKR Wanita communications chief Carolyn Khor.

GEORGE TOWN: PKR Wanita today urged the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate land swap deals involving the defence ministry and private companies, especially in Penang.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had claimed last month that this caused RM500 million in losses to the government and involved private companies building army barracks in return for prime land owned by the defence ministry.

In a statement, PKR Wanita communications chief Carolyn Khor said the land swap deal in Penang appeared to be fishy as the contractor built military barracks costing RM40 million but received prime land on Penang island allegedly worth RM82 million.

She claimed the barracks, which were built in Bukit Gedung, cost just RM16 million but were allegedly reported to the defence ministry as being built at a cost of RM40 million.

Khor urged the new head of MACC, Latheefa Koya, who was formerly a PKR member, to look into such land swap malpractices by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

She said MACC should investigate the form of compensation given to the company and re-appraise the two parcels of land given to the company in return for the new military barracks in Penang.

Khor said one of the two parcels of land given to the company building the barracks was a former military base on Northam Road, George Town.

This base was used during the Second World War and later used by the Second Division Infantry between 1986 to 2000, before moving on to their new home in Bukit Gedung. It was once the home to Singapore’s founder Stamford Raffles, who built his bungalow called Runnymede there.

The other piece of land offered was in Batu Uban.

“In total, that would be 34.64 acres for RM82 million, which works out to about RM54.34 per square feet.

“An appraiser will be in a better position to give a proper valuation for the cost of this prime land back when the deal was inked. Today, the market value definitely exceeds RM400 million.

“The appreciation in land value from over 20 years ago is a great loss to the government and, therefore, must be subjected to an inquiry,” she said.

“The huge profits generated from the land swap run into hundreds of millions for the private developers. Government properties are being traded off at a bargain.”

FMT has contacted the said company for comment and is awaiting their reply.

Mohamad had said many discrepancies were found in the land swaps, claiming land was offered at a lower price and unqualified developers were chosen.

He added that investigations had found that the government lost more than RM500 million due to these land swaps.

The 16 projects, covering an area of 2,923 acres, were on a design-and-build basis, with the cost borne by the private sector.