Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ex-FT minister Khalid backed private developer’s bid for KL land

This is despite the policy of the then-Pakatan Harapan government not to issue support letters or to give instructions that could be seen as influencing decisions.

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Former minister Khalid Samad helped a private developer obtain approval for the transfer of a plot of land in 2019 despite the policy of the then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) government not to issue support letters, including by way of minister’s minutes.

Khalid, who was the federal territories minister under the 22-month PH government, had personally ensured that a letter of appeal by the developer was attended to by his aide as well as the mayor.

MalaysiaNow has sighted a copy of the said letter.

The company wrote to Khalid barely six months after PH took over the federal government, seeking to acquire a plot of land in Kuala Lumpur for the purpose of a mixed development project.

It is understood that the Federal Territories Lands and Mines Office had approved the company’s application for the land in December 2017, but that this was revoked in November 2018.

As such, the company decided to write an appeal directly to Khalid in December 2018.

“We also hope that you can give full support in reconsidering the decision to cancel the transfer of ownership for this land as the proposed development empowers Bumiputera entrepreneurs like us to make a significant contribution to the nation’s economy which at the moment is not encouraging,” the company said in its letter sighted by MalaysiaNow.

Following this, Khalid instructed his political secretary Azli Yusof to refer the matter to the land office.

Azli in a letter some three months later informed the company that its application had been referred to the land office, and that the minister had “no objection”.

In November 2019, following another appeal by the company, Khalid left a handwritten note for the chief secretary to the government and Kuala Lumpur mayor: “Hope this can be approved as it is in line with the FT ministry’s vision.”

Further checks by MalaysiaNow revealed several familiar names among the directors of the company, including those of a party supporter and a Datuk businessman.

A sibling of a former prime minister meanwhile holds controlling interest in the entity.

The request by Khalid was made even as the PH government said it was doing away with the practice of politicians writing support letters for tenders and projects.

The practice nonetheless appeared to have continued, as shown by the controversy involving an aide to then-deputy prime minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who wrote a letter to the political secretary to then-education minister Maszlee Malik endorsing a company’s bid for a catering contract to a school in Sabah.

In November 2019, Khalid’s colleague in Amanah, Salahuddin Ayub, came under fire after saying he saw nothing wrong with sending a support letter to the prime minister recommending a RM1 billion tender be given to the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas).

Last year, former transport minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said during its rule, PH had reminded all ministers and deputy ministers not to issue support letters or to give instructions that could be seen as influencing decisions.

“The only thing that is permissible is the use of the words ‘for consideration’ or ‘please look into the matter’,” Loke had said.

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