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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Former minister Khalid Samad warned the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today about the potential for the planned Quran Village to become yet another white elephant, amid growing wariness over the RM150 million project’s viability.
The Shah Alam MP pointed to the Halal Hub project as a cautionary example, noting that the Barisan Nasional administration then had splashed hundreds of millions to develop the franchise.
Khalid, the former Federal Territories minister, claimed the project saw marginal turnovers in the years since the project was introduced.
The so-called Quran Village project, slated for development in the country’s administrative capital Putrajaya, was announced by the current Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa on July 21.
The RM150 million project is to include the construction of hostels, exhibition halls equipped with laser and holographic technology to “showcase the Quran”, Annuar told Parliament during his ministry winding up of the Royal Address debate this afternoon.
“When I heard about this, I became worried because when you talk about it, this and that will cost millions, counting it the project is nearly RM200 million,” Khalid, Annuar’s predecessor, said.
“But based on my experience of taking over the ministry, I saw how funds were spent on projects for the sheer sake of spending money, without any regards for profitability,” he added.
“(For example) the Halal Hub project has been there for decades but the turnover has been poor, yet no decision has been made to improve nor to reassess it.”
Annuar in his response defended the plan. The FT minister from Kelantan said the Quran Village is still subject to approval by the “central agency” which will undertake due diligence to assess the project’s viability.
“Whatever it is (the project) is still in planning and everything is still in planning,” the Ketereh MP replied.
“Why are you even opposing the plan to build a mosque or something to promote the Quran. Yang berhormat if you wish to oppose, it’s better to be selective,” the minister added.
“Yes, the total amount for the project surpasses RM100 million. But we have made the submissions for it to be included in the 12th Malaysian Plan and let the central agency decide on it It is the government’s duty to plan something thoroughly.”
Annuar added the project is expected to draw both domestic and international tourists.