KUALA LUMPUR: Four army bases were relocated during the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration in order to move military voters and shore up political support in certain areas, said Malaysia Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
According to a report by the Star on Thursday (Feb 21), he said the new bases, created through land swap arrangements, were built by the defence ministry despite objections from the army top brass.
“The army bases were set up to move army personnel voters. The armed forces had said there was no need for an army base in those four places but MINDEF ignored these protests and went ahead, essentially to ensure a vote bank so that certain politicians could continue to win their parliamentary constituencies in the past general elections,” said the minister, who is also known as Mat Sabu.
The four bases are located in Hutan Melintang (Perak), Segamat and Paloh (Johor) and Bera (Pahang).
The minister said this amounted to an abuse of power.
On Tuesday, he announced that the defence ministry has previously lost more than RM500 million (US$122 million) in land swap deals involving plots worth around RM4.88 billion.
The projects were implemented without detailed planning and developers were selected without due diligence, he said.
He instructed his officers to file reports with the police, graft-busters and other relevant agencies.
The Star report, citing a former army source, said those accused of being involved were senior officers.
“Some of them were retired generals and it is sad that their obedience is more to politicians than to the king and country, as all army personnel are supposed to be,” said the source.
“If these land swaps were done according to proper planning and the developers were selected properly, MINDEF would not have lost so much money,” the defence minister said.
“However, they were done in a haphazard manner and MINDEF lost about half a billion ringgit.”