‘Graft in military housing since 90s’

The Malay Army Veteran Association chief also claims previous contractors dished out contracts to cronies.

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, FMT

Corruption involving military housing had been widespread since the 1990s, the president of the Malay Army Veteran Association (PVMT) Mohamad Ali Baharom alleged today.

Yesterday the 2011 Auditor-General report revealed that the Defence Ministry had spent a whopping RM3.2 billion for poor quality living quarters with a 84% cost overrun from the initial cost of RM1.2 billion.

The quality of the quarters was said to be marred with damages and construction defects causing safety concerns for occupants. Reparations were slow to come and low quality furniture was supplied.

The report also stated that the contractors failed to complete construction within the initial contract period and were given time extensions of 94 to 1,240 days.

“This issue has been around since I was still in the army. That was in the 1990s. It is blatant cheating (by the contractors),” Mohamad, better known as Ali Tinju, told FMT in a brief interview.

The PVMT president said similar complaints were lodged with Mindef on the poor quality of housing and suspected corruption in the process but the issue never got out into the open.

Mohamad alleged government-owned National Housing Company Bhd (SPNB) had also provided poor quality housing despite being awarded hefty contracts later distributed to politically-connected contractors.

SPNB implicated

“It was the same with SPNB. The houses were of very poor quality. I have visited the houses of the generals.

“They may look good outside but the interiors are rife with problems. They handed out the contracts to their cronies,” he said, adding that Mindef should rectify the problems and prosecute those involved.

The contractor implicated in the 2011 AG report was Syarikat USL, a joint venture of the Finance Ministry-owned Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd and the Armed Forces Fund Board Sdn Bhd.

The report described the company as “inexperienced” and “technically incompetent”. Mindef was censured and urged to ensure that it appoint only eligible and capable contractors.

The report also noted that although USL was fined RM87.12 million for the delays, the Finance Ministry waived the penalty following an application by Mindef.

In 2006, the same company was censured for sub-par delivery of an air force quarters project in Subang.

Despite the reprimand, no repairs were made. However, the report revealed, the ministry had nevertheless issued a “certificate of making good defects” to indicate that repairs had been completed.