Malaysia's Defence Minister Hishammuddin dismisses ex-minister Rafidah's allegations over military land

Mr Hishammuddin said that the large-scale commercial agricultural project that was mentioned by Ms Rafidah was the Defence Ministry's attempt to look at "food security".VIDEO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia's caretaker Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has denied the allegations made by former Cabinet minister Rafidah Aziz, who had claimed that a three-person company owns all the military land in the country, The Star reported.

"Rafidah's allegations that a three-person company now owns Mindef (Defence Ministry) and military land in Malaysia are not true and an outright lie," he said in a video posted on his Facebook page on Monday (April 9).

Tan Sri Rafidah said in her Facebook post on Sunday (April 8) that Prime Minister Najib Razak as defence minister in 2008 had proposed to privatise military land in the country to a three-person company.

She claimed that the proposal was made to the government and was then approved.

In her post, she had challenged Datuk Seri Najib to clarify whether several current ongoing projects involved privatising military land.

Among the major projects that she had listed included the Bandar Malaysia project which is on the former Sungai Besi air force base, the East Coast Rail Link which connects ports on the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail.

Others she had cited included the relocation of the Majidee camp in Johor Baru, the sale of the Butterworth air force base in Penang and a large-scale commercial agricultural project which she said had been announced by Datuk Seri Hishammuddin.

 

Mr Hishammuddin said that the large-scale commercial agricultural project that was mentioned by Ms Rafidah was the Defence Ministry's attempt to look at "food security".

"I was only thinking about food security with the Agriculture Minister, and that was two to three years ago. Nothing has happened since then," he said.

Mr Hishammuddin also questioned Rafidah's motives for allegedly making false statements.

"I believe she is being very irresponsible for a member of Cabinet at that time who was part of the decisions made, to make false allegations on these issues that centred on Mindef," he said.

He added that he will be getting the ministry and the Armed Forces Fund Board to respond to Ms Rafidah's other allegations.

"I have asked for the Cabinet minutes to see what her allegations are. We will get to the bottom of this," he said.

Ms Rafidah on Monday insisted that her allegations were true.

"You can ask ministers of that Cabinet. Some may forget, but revealing the Cabinet paper will clear the issue and establish the facts," she told Malaysiakini.

"No one should deny it," she was quoted as saying.

Ms Rafidah was the country's longest-serving international rrade and industry minister, serving in the post from 1987 to 2008 under the administrations of former Prime Ministers Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Badawi.

Last month, she also made the news after she claimed she had managed to locate a luxury yacht that was sought as part of the multi-billion-dollar United States corruption probe linked to the Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) while on a diving trip in Thailand one year ago.

The yacht, which US officials have said was allegedly owned by Malaysian financier Jho Low, was seized by Indonesia in February at the request of US investigators and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on March 8.

Ms Rafidah had posted on her Facebook page on March 4 photos and videos that she took of the Equanimity yacht last year in the waters off Phuket. She said that she had managed to pinpoint the exact location of the Equanimity using the vessel's automatic identification system, The Star reported.