PUTRAJAYA, June 23 — Former Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today gave a statement for seven hours to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the land swaps issue involving land belonging to the ministry.
He arrived at 11am and left the MACC headquarters at 6pm.
When met by reporters here today, Hishammuddin said that he was satisfied at the professionalism shown by the MACC when giving his statement and would co-operate fully to help in investigations.
However, he reminded all quarters that investigations and prosecutions on the issue of the land swaps should not be done selectively.
“If you want to talk about the land swaps, make sure you talk about the 16 land swaps. If you want to talk about procedures, let us see what procedures were used during previous leadership either by the previous Prime Minister or Minister of Defence.
“Those involving Paloh (camp in Johor), I have answered them in detail today but don’t stop there because it involved 16 land swaps. Let’s see who the culprits are, who is wrong because we want to get down to the truth. I have nothing to hide,” he said.
Hishammuddin hoped that the subsequent investigations would be conducted without bias because what was being hoped for was justice.
‘‘If there is a need to raise anything, I will not hesitate to help because we want to find out the truth. Let’s get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Asked on how many of the 16 land swaps were during his tenure, Hishamiddin said: “Well... I have been called in was (over) one, namely, Paloh. The others, they have to call, whether other ministers (were) involved and (to) make sure they call them also. What is so special about mine?”
“Who is the one (who had) actually lost money, who are the contractors that were given land swap contracts in the past, who actually benefited? I have said categorically, I have not benefited one cent from any of the land swaps,” he stressed.
Hishammuddin said what he did in regard to the land swaps was for the welfare of the soldiers and their families.
“Where are you going to find the money otherwise to build their camps? If they were clever at talking, at accusing, they should have given me suggestions on what to do for the welfare of our soldiers and their families. That is my emphasis,” he said.
In February, a newspaper reported that the Ministry of Defence revealed that the government lost over RM500 million over land swaps involving land belonging to the ministry which was believed to have taken place since 1997.
Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu was reported to have said that the matter was revealed following investigation by the Special Investigation Committee on Procurement, Governance and Finance headed by Tan Sri Ambrin Buang on January 28.
All losses and leakages were reported to involve 16 land swap projects comprising 1,183 ha of land belonging to the ministry worth RM4.7 billion and project cost of RM4.8 billion.
Asked if he would be recalled to give his statement on the case, Hishammuddin said it was up to the MACC.
“I will give my co-operation. This is my last press conference (about the case) because for now on I want MACC to carry on with their jobs,” he said.
On the purchase of six helicopters worth over RM300 million by the Ministry of Defence in 2015, Hishammuddin said it was not raised by the MACC today.
“I have given my answer over the case of the helicopters and I have nothing to hide. What is wrong is wrong and if it involves my previous officers, I won’t obstruct,” he said.
On June 13, the Ministry of Defence lodged a report with the MACC on the purchase of six helicopters worth over RM300 million in 2015 which the Malaysian Armed Forces have not received until today.
According to media reports, the light combat MD530G helicopter manufactured by McDonnell Douglas of the United States was supposed to have been received in two phases, namely, two in July 2017 and the rest in December 2018. — Bernama