KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 ― Methods used in 16 dubious privatisation schemes involving Armed Forces land were similar to those used for 1MDB’s so-called “debt rationalisation”, the National Patriots Association noted today.
Demanding that Putrajaya sack senior Armed Forces officials complicit in the suspected land grabs that have cost the public at least RM500 million in foregone revenue, the group asserted that these were just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Patriot president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji recalled that former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy had “bragged” about the success of the scheme to pay down the state investment firm’s tens of billions of debt early last year.
“The military land swap deals could be part of the debt rationalisation programme,” he asserted.
Mohamed Arshad also pressed the government to fully expose the severity of the suspected land grabs, which he linked to the suspicious construction of military camps in select constituencies he alleged was meant to shore up then-incumbents’ electoral support.
The Patriot chief also excoriated the heads of the country’s armed forces for lacking the “gumption” to stand up to their political masters then, blaming the group for the declining image of the country’s military.
“Patriots are members who have served the king and country with honour and pride. It pains us to see the military institution put into a situation of shameful disrepute. For those responsible, heads must roll.”
Last Tuesday, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said internal investigations into the 16 land swaps valued at an estimated RM4.9 billion found that at least RM500 million was indirectly lost through their valuations.
An aide to the minister disclosed yesterday that the deals took place when Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had headed the ministry.