Mindef mum on Puspahanas project by Raja Ropiaah’s firm

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad said today he has no information about the RM100 million National Defence Education Centre (Puspahanas) contracted to Selangor Wanita Umno chief Senator Raja Datuk Seri Ropiaah Abdullah’s company Awan Megah (M) Sdn Bhd.

Awan Megah was given the contract to build Puspahanas in 2005 in exchange for three pieces of land in Bukit Raja and RM27 million. The company sold the land last week to a unit of the Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) for RM130 million.

“I have no information on that, so it’s not fair for me to comment,” Abdul Latif told reporters here.

“I feel I shouldn’t give any comments as I don’t have any facts about the issue,” he added.

No other Ministry of Defence (Mindef) official has come out to talk about the project after carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan sued Raja Ropiaah (picture) for the land last year.

He has since dropped the suit and his company, Astacanggih Sdn Bhd, has had 80 per cent of its shares acquired for RM30 million by a unit of Boustead Holdings Bhd, which is owned by LTAT.

The controversial businessman has claimed that Raja Ropiaah has made off with the lion’s share of the money while he only regained his capital.

Last month, LTAT, through its investment arm Boustead, had announced plans to acquire the 200-acre land from Awan Megah for RM130 million.

On the same day, Deepak also withdrew his lawsuit against Putrajaya for an alleged breach of agreement over the same land in Bukit Raja.

Deepak had earlier filed a suit against Awan Megah for criminal breach of trust in the sale of the land and had named the firm, Mindef, government land unit Syarikat Tanah Dan Harta Sdn Bhd and Cebur Megah Development Sdn Bhd in his lawsuit.

Astacanggih had agreed to buy three parcels of land in 2007 for RM13 million and a RM72 million bank guarantee for a land bond from Raja Ropiaah, who was awarded a RM100 million privatisation deal for the development of Puspahanas.

The land was supposed to be placed in a special purpose company called Cebur Megah as government rules do not allow land in privatised projects to be sold by the winning party. The land is still in government hands as the defence project has yet to take off.

The Selangor Wanita Umno chief had allegedly sold one parcel for RM2 million in cash and a RM16 million overdraft facility in a “joint venture” with Guppyunip Sdn Bhd, a company specialising in plasticware, prompting the carpet dealer to put a caveat on the land in Bukit Raja and lodge a police report last July.



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