18th April 2018
THE MILITARY LAND SWAP: IS IT PRIVATISATION OR PIRATISATION?
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Pariot) has on 9 Apr 18 demanded answers from our caretaker Prime Minister to our three questions:
1. What has transpired during the last ten years since Najib Razak, then Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister made the proposal in 2008 to privatise the Mindef/Armed Forces land?
2. Was the more than 40,000 hectares of land privatised?
3. If so, to which company and who are the owners of the company?
The questions were asked following Rafidah Aziz’s shocking exposure in an open letter on 8 Apr 18.
Since then it drew the caretaker Defence Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, to say that Rafidah Aziz told three lies without answering the relevant questions asked by Rafidah and Patriot. In return, Rafidah Aziz reaffirmed her statement with a Quaranic verse that every piece of Mindef/Armed Forces land has been privatised to three persons.
On 11 Apr 18, the Strategic Communication Unit of the Ministry of Defence issued a statement, among others, replied to Rafidah Aziz’s claim as such:
1. A company comprising three individuals that controls the execution of projects in relation to Mindef land swap is not true.
2. The accusation that all land belonging to Mindef has been transferred to a company owned by three individuals is not true.
3. In general, Mindef has carried out developmental projects through various approaches, including the land swap privatisation.
The Mindef Strategic Communication Unit, besides denying Rafidah Aziz’s claims, went on a lengthy description of the administrative procedures necessary to execute the developmental projects involving Mindef land.
Patriot is appalled and finds the answers given by the Mindef Strategic Communication Unit to be evasive, and cleverly diverted attention to the administrative procedures, rather than giving direct answers. The answers given did not say Mindef/Armed Forces land was not privatised. It did not say the land was not privatised to other company or companies. It merely stated the alleged 3-person company now owning the land is not true.
By stating that Mindef has carried out developmental projects through various approaches, including land swap privatisation, unless clearly stated otherwise, Mindef is unwittingly admitting that the land in question has been privatised. Whether all the said more than 40,000 hectares of military land, or a portion of it has been privatised, is unclear. Whether it has been privatised to the said 3-person company (as alleged by Rafidah Aziz), or to some other company or companies, is also not so relevant. The point of contention is that Mindef/Armed Forces land, whether in totality or a portion of it, has been privatised to certain company/companies or persons. Once privatised and ownership of the land changed, who and what could stop them from setting up multi-tiers companies for the land ownership to evade easy detection of the actual owners?
Much has been said about the now 1MDB-owned Sg Besi Air Force base, the 400 hectares Butterworth Air Force base that was suppose to be taken over by TSR Capital, the Johor Majidee camp sold to Syarikat Setia Pantai Sdn Bhd, and quite recently the Royal Malay Regiment Gua Permai camp in Ipoh which is earmarked for a land swap veterans hospital project allegedly link to BP Healthcare; and the battalion to be shifted to Hutan Melintang. All these so-called developmental projects, all these dealings, are shrouded in secrecy. It is totally unacceptable. Where is the voice of the members of the Armed Forces Council? Where is the voice of all our Generals and top brasses?
With the recent much publicity of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) and the High Speed Rail (HSR), Patriot would like to add an additional question to our three unanswered questions. How much of the military land will be involved with the construction of the ECRL and HSR, and who/which company or companies stand to benefit? Patriot has the obligation to seek the truth.
With so much of uncertainly and unanswered questions, it invites one to wonder if the whole Mindef/Armed Forces land swap and privatisation scheme, is truly privatisation or piratisation.
Patriot demands immediate and specific answers to these questions.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan