The probe into the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) controversial land swap deal issue should be continued by the new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to enable the public to get a clearer picture of the issue.
Sociopolitical analyst from Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) Prof Madya Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the continuation of the probe should be done in line with the Unity Government’s policy to see a cleaner, better and more transparent administration.
“If not probed, it will raise more questions among the people…so it should continue based on the findings of PAC’s earlier investigation,”.
An English daily reported that former PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh wanted the new administration to press ahead with the investigation into the controversial land swap deal issue.
He said the committee under his watch had completed 50 percent of the draft on the probe, but it could not be finalised due to the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10 last year.
Awang Azman said the continuation of the investigation will also ensure that all governance in Mindef is carried out in more detail and transparent manners, thus building the people’s confidence in the management of the ministry.
In fact, he said it was also to prevent corruption in public management, which can tarnish the image and reputation of the country.
Nusantara Academy of Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Dr Azmi Hassan, who is also a defence analyst, is of the same opinion that the probe into the land swap deal issue should continue to be investigated to stop the rumours and speculations of misconduct among the ministry’s officials.
“Maybe the officials involved have retired or been transferred elsewhere, but for me, if the probe is stopped, there will be allegations that the current government is trying to hide something.
“Although the issue is quite complicated and sensitive, the probe must be done as soon as possible and should not take too long to be completed,” he said, adding that the investigation by the previous PAC had taken almost two years.
However, he said it is up to the soon-to-be-appointed PAC to use the findings of the previous investigation which was 50 per cent completed or to start anew.
The land swap deal began in 2012, involving a 38.04ha army camp in Kinrara, Selangor, the construction of an air force facility in Sendayan, and the construction of an army camp in Port Dickson, both in Negeri Sembilan.
However, in 2016, the proposal to construct an army camp in Port Dickson was replaced with the proposal to set up the Paloh camp.
In 2020, Wong said the issue was brought to PAC’s attention following a briefing by the special investigation committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) after investigating 16 cases of land swap cases involving 2,923 acres (1,183ha) of government land valued at RM4.8 billion.
He said the PAC was informed that one of the issues that surfaced in the land swap is related to government losses due to the inconsistent methods used to determine the value of the land and political considerations that outweigh defence interests.