Mindef spent RM300,000 on luxury items

By The Star

A SET of chandeliers valued at RM10,000, home theatre set at RM12,000, wallpaper at RM95,880, sofa set at RM13,000 and other luxury items were among the Defence Ministry’s purchases for its VVIP room, Mawilla 3, under the First Economic Stimulus Package.

The Auditor-General’s Report revealed that RM301,900 was spent on luxury items, including decorative outdoor lights and carpets, for the Langkawi Naval Base and Lumut Naval Base.

The audit discovered that RM144,118 under the First Stimulus Package was billed as maintenance cost – replacement of floor tiles (RM72,960), plaster ceiling (RM31,008), cornices (RM5,950) and nine units of air-conditioners (RM34,200) – for its dining hall.

Worse still, the replacement and upgrading work were all seen as unnecessary as the condition of the dining hall was still good.

“No serious damage was reported in the dining hall,’’ the A-G’s Report said, adding that maintenance costs should be billed under the Defence Ministry’s allocation and not the economic stimulus package.

The Langkawi base spends RM2mil a year on maintenance.

The ministry spent RM459,460 to purchase 836 units of decorative lights for its Lumut Naval Base under the stimulus package. The outdoor lights, each unit costing RM490, were to be fixed along the road leading to Wisma Samudera.

However, only 236 units were installed while 600 units valued at RM294,000 were kept in store as spares.

The Auditor-General report said it was unable to find the justification for the purchase of lights, which was not a necessity.

In reply, the Defence Ministry denied that the 600 decorative outdoor lightings were kept in store as spares, explaining that they were for use during official events.

It said the decorative lights were not regularly used to save on electricity bills and to reduce their exposure to sunlight.

It said the purchase of luxury items was in line with the stimulus package’s aim of upgrading equipment for the military.

The acquisition of luxury items for VVIP room Mawilla 3 was because of the frequency of visits by prominent persons, including heads of state as well as sultans.

The expenditure was meant for long-term use, 10 years, it said, adding that additional work would not be required whenever a VIP visited.

The ministry said the dining hall of Mawilla 3 was a “sick project” which required work to upgrade its condition. “Its uneven floor had posed risks, as one might fall while carrying food,’’ it said.

The hall was completed in July 2006 and was in use from April the following year.