I had been observing since my days in the military that any construction projects undertaken for the Armed Forces will take an exceptionally long period to complete. But if one were to observe a project undertaken for the private sector, it would normally be completed on schedule. Having no knowledge about the construction industry, I begin to seek answers for these unusual delays.
I would have thought that from the point of view of the developer, the sooner he completes his job, the better it is for him. And the longer he delays the completion, the costlier it will be for him. This would normally be the understanding of the construction industry from the ordinary person’s view. But strangely enough, construction projects for the Armed Forces seems to be that the longer the delay, the better it is, and there must be some mysterious reason for this.
Let’s take the construction of the Mindef Transit Camp, which I was told, was awarded on the basis of a land swap i.e. the developer will have to complete the project first, before they can have possession of an agreed piece of land that belongs to the Armed Forces. In the case of the Mindef Transit Camp, the return offer was some parcel of Armed Forces land along Jalan Ampang. The Mindef Transit Camp is now completed, but it took the developer more than 12 years. Even the development of Putrajaya did not take that long. Amazing, isn’t it?
Next is the officers married quarters and the other ranks married quarters at Mindef complex, and at Sg. Besi Army Camp respectively. These two projects are nearing a decade, and I wonder if both the projects are completed.
And at one time before, we had a project at Muara Tuang, Sarawak that was supposed to be the new location for the Divisional HQ. In my last position as the Chief of Staff (Operations) at Army Field Command, it used to be a joke every time the Field Commander makes a visit to Muara Tuang. The joke among us officers was, “melawat Muara Tuang….nak tuang lah tu!” I am told that the project at Muara Tuang has started, after a long delay.
Now back to the Mindef Transit Camp. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to take a look at the new complex which they say is likened to a 3 star hotel for the soldiers and their families that are on transit to East Malaysia. From the outside, the building looks grand and exciting. But if one were to take a serious look at the construction, the building is shoddy and lacks finesse in its final touches. There has already been leakages in some parts of the building, and it will not be long before pieces of the ceiling will break apart. I am certainly not an engineer, but I can claim to be good at observing things that are not right.
The question that I need to ask is, “what are the causes of the long delays to complete construction projects for the Armed Forces, and why has it been allowed to be delayed?” The answer I got from a friend was, “it must be the work of cronies, and only cronies now a days can get away with murder”. That answer was not pleasing to my ear, but I suppose it has some truth.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION