Hisham at MACC over probe into Mindef land swaps

Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein on his arrival at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya this morning.

PUTRAJAYA: Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein arrived at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters here this morning, after being summoned for investigations linked to land swaps approved during his tenure.

This is the first time that Hishammuddin is being questioned by the anti-graft body.

He had lodged a report with MACC on the land swaps in May.

Hishammuddin arrived alone at 11.05am.

“I hope they will (investigate) without fear or favour. The morale of the (soldiers) and the interest of their families are most important.

“Let’s get to the bottom of this,” he told reporters at the MACC entrance.

Hishammuddin is the second former Barisan Nasional (BN) minister to be quizzed over the land swap deals, after Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had his statement taken last Thursday.

Zahid was both deputy prime minister and defence minister during Najib Razak’s tenure as prime minister from 2008 to 2018.

Hishammuddin later took over the defence minister’s post and held office until the May 2018 general election.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki previously said he did not rule out the possibility that Najib would be called to give his statement.

Azam had announced on May 21 that Hishammuddin had lodged a report on the matter with MACC a week earlier.

Prior to this, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had welcomed investigations into the 16 land swap deals, saying no one is above the law.

The 16 land swaps took place in Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur, Tanah Batu Uban in Penang, Bukit Raja in Selangor, Plentong in Johor, Tanah Rata in Pahang, Bandar Kinrara in Selangor and Stampin in Sarawak.

On May 17, Mindef handed over 14 reports on the land swap deals, after surrendering two reports earlier.

The reports were the findings of the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee that had investigated 16 deals involving 1,183ha belonging to the ministry.

Besides the land value, the cost of the projects was estimated at RM4.88 billion.

The findings in one of the audit reports stated that a former prime minister and former defence ministers were found to have been involved in the land swap deal for the development of the Muara Tuang and Penrissen camps in Sarawak.