Malacca Gateway project was transparent in its early days, says Idris
THE Malacca Gateway land reclamation project, now the subject of investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), was done transparently in the initial days of its rollout, former chief minister Idris Haron said.
The Sg Udang incumbent said things changed when the project was awarded to a newly incorporated company, after a change of leadership in the state.
Idris felt that the move to award the RM43 billion project to the said company was questionable.
“The project was given to a foreign company, which was set up two months (prior to the award) with a paid-up capital of S$200 (RM617),” he said.
Idris was Malacca chief minister from May 2013 until the state fell to Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 14th general election in 2018.
He was succeeded by PH’s Adly Zahari, who had to step down last year after Perikatan Nasional came to power in Putrajaya.
Adly revoked the Malacca Gateway agreement as part of the review on development projects undertaken by PH. Adly lost his majority in March last year after Bersatu quit PH, which resulted in a few state assemblymen exiting the coalition.
This also paved the way for Sulaiman Md Ali’s rise to power. Sulaiman’s government fell last week after Idris and three other assemblymen withdrew their support for him.
New agreements with three companies for the land reclamation project, maritime activities and foreign workers’ hostel, materialised in February under Sulaiman’s leadership.
He then announced a RM1.5 billion agreement for a 182.1ha land reclamation project in the Umbai sub-district.
MACC launched an investigation following Idris’ claims of misappropriation of project returns and sand royalty issues.
Idris said there are several issues concerning the project, which among others involved the misappropriation of sand royalty.
“We as leaders always advise the people to uphold integrity but then we cheat the federal government of millions of ringgit,” he said without naming the company.
He said these were among the reasons for him and three others – Nor Azman Hassan (Pantai Kundor), Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Pengkalan Batu) and Noor Effandi Ahmad (Telok Mas) – to withdraw support for Sulaiman.
Following that, MACC also announced they will compile more details from Idris over his claims on the irregularities.
On criticisms the land reclamation project took place under his leadership, Idris said he did not approve the project but merely issued a letter of support.
He said the land reclamation has been going on since the 1970s and has been key for the state’s economy.
“It is something we inherited from the previous leadership and it happened during my tenure as well,” he said.
“I am not saying I supported it in a personal capacity but I signed (the letter of support) on behalf of the state government. It does not amount to abuse of power,” Idris said.
Idris said the land reclamation project for Malacca Gateway involved several parties, including the National Land Council.
“It was the National Land Council that approved the project. It is a committee chaired by the deputy prime minister.
“It is not easy to get the green light. They have to consider the potential for development.
“There has to be something unique to attract investors… to become an economic corridor, so we offered freehold land, which was approved by the council,” Idris said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT