Najib comes under fire for ‘security breach’
By G Vinod, FreeMalaysiaToday.com
KUALA LUMPUR (JUNE 16) : An opposition leader has taken Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to task over the proposed relocation of the Sungai Besi air force base in lieu of a development project there.
PKR vice-president Azmin Ali also suggested that in its desperation to revive the economy, Najib’s administration was willing to compromise the nation’s security, dignity and sovereignity.
“There is a trend under the new administration to make national assets disappear through the sale of strategic areas to family and cronies,” said the Gombak MP when debating the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) in Parliament yesterday.
On June 10, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the Sungai Besi airport will be relocated to make way for the “Greater Kuala Lumpur” development project under the 10MP.
The minister said the plan is still under discussion, and talk is that the new air force base might be housed in Dengkil.
However, Azmin stressed that its current location was vital from a security viewpoint.
“The airport is the only strategic facility in the frontier city. It also houses the Air Force Operations Centre (POTU) which has the integrated air defence radar supplemented by the Malaysia Air Defence Ground Environment (MADGE),” he said.
Azmin explained that MADGE is an integrated satellite system that has real time battle air picture with direct communication with Butterworth, Kuantan and Bukit Ibam.
“It took about 10 years for the military to perfect this system. Can the government guarantee that during the relocation process, the radar system will not be compromised?” he asked.
Azmin also said the cost to relocate the high technology radar system will inflate the national defence budget, which is already shrouded in secrecy.
He also noted that the Sungai Besi airport is also where mercy flight operations are handled such as in providing relief for victims of tragedies.
Is Bukit Aman and Putrajaya next?
On a sarcastic note, Azmin asked when the government proposed to sell the Ministry of Defence, Bukit Aman and Putrajaya.
The PKR leader also lashed out at the government for not offering an open tender system in selling the 400 acres of land in Sungai Besi.
Prodding further, he said the proposed development project involves two companies, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and Malton Bhd.
“1MDB is linked to one Jho Low who is regarded as a ‘mystery man who spends a lot of money in New York night clubs’ as reported by the New York Post,” he added.
Azmin also questioned the role of one “Datin Cindy” in the awarding of this prime land to the two companies.
“I have been told that Datin Cindy is the shopping partner of the this country’s top leader’s wife,” he said, referring to Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.
Meanwhile, PAS deputy president Mahfuz Omar echoed Azmin’s views in stating that the plan to sacrifice the Sungai Besi air force base for commercial development was both dangerous and against the concept of overall defence.
“The move will cause the country to lose a strategic defence base in the centre of town. TUDM is a key element in national defence and an integral part of the concept of overall defence.
“It is not appropriate to do away with this strategic defence base merely to fulfil the needs of a crony, ” said the Pokok Sena MP.
Mahfuz also wanted to know the risks involved in the transfer of highly sensitive and critical Electronic Warfare Support Centre (EWSC) facility when the base is relocated.
“Why is the government pretending not to know about the facility when electronic warfare is crucial and critical to our defence.
He said the shifting of the facilities would take a long time and in the process the country would lose control over its air force operations systems.
He also said the government has given no indication as to where the new air base would be located.
“The defence minister has only announced that the air base will be transferred to another site that will be announced later. He has not said where it will be.
“He has also not disclosed any information on the costs of commissioning, compensation and other indirect expenses. All these payouts will have to be borne by TUDM, the military and the people,” he said.
“I just hope the government is not making another blunder like it did with its sale of the Majidee and Ampang transit camps in Penang and its army quarters in Batu Uban. Those decisions left the country without a back-up defence facility,” he said.