By Clara Chooi
IPOH, Dec 16 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will initiate investigations into an allegation that a quota of land plots meant for the poor in Gopeng had been given to an Umno division chief and his cronies.
Also implicated in the allegation is Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, who holds the land portfolio in the state executive council.
The case’s investigating officer confirmed to The Malaysian Insidertoday that the complainant in the matter, Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, had been summoned to give a statement at the commission’s Perak branch here, at 2pm tomorrow.
“Once we record his statement, we will summon in the others who were named in the complaint,” he said when contacted. The officer, however, did not confirm if the commission would summon Zambry in its investigation.
Chang, who is also the Perak PKR vice-chairman, is alleging that 10 out of the 127 plots of land under the Sungai Itek planned village programme had been allocated to Gopeng Umno committee members, including its chief Datuk Hamzah Kassim and the latter’s business partner, Syarul Nizam Mohamad Shahidan.
He told reporters after lodging his report at the MACC here this afternoon that the plots of land should rightfully be given to the poor and the landless of the Gopeng constituency.
“Hamzah is an Ipoh city councillor. He has his own home in Taman Pinji Perdana and is even the director of three private companies. He does not have a need for the land,” said Chang.
Chang added that Hamzah is also the biggest shareholder in property development and trading firm, Star Ventures Sdn Bhd, of which Syarul Nizam is the director.
He said that according to information obtained from the Companies Commission of Malaysia, Hamzah had once been appointed as a director of the firm but resigned from the post on Sept 14 this year.
The others who have allegedly been selected as participants under the Sungai Itek programme include seven Gopeng Umno division committee members, one division Youth committee member, and the division’s treasurer.
According to Chang, the names had been maintained on the list of participants even after the 14-day objection period from Nov 30 to Dec 13.
“From what we know, the final list has not yet been finalised. However, we believe that in the first place, no such quota should be given to these people whether to keep as their own or to distribute to others.
“This is very clearly a gross abuse of power and we hope that action is taken upon these people,” he said. Chang added that as the holder of the land portfolio and the Perak Umno liaison chief, Zambry should also be held responsible.
“He has misused his power and his position to enrich his Umno leaders,” he said.
Chang had highlighted the issue to the media last week, and had revealed the name list for the suggested participants under the Sungai Itek programme.
In the list, 35 plots were allocated to the identified squatters in the area, 52 to the pre-interviewed poor and landless, 10 to the Gopeng Umno division and 30 to village chiefs.
When contacted, Hamzah had told The Malaysian Insider that he had no say in the decision to select the participants in the programme.
He said that there was no wrong in his bidding for the land when given the opportunity to do so for as the Umno division chief, adding he had wanted to situate himself closer to his constituents for the purpose of offering them service and aid.
Hamzah had also said that it was the district land office’s decision to select the participants of the programme.
District land officer Ahmad Kamaruzzaman Hamzah had, however, told The Malaysian Insider that the quota for Umno and the village chiefs was meant to be distributed to the poor.
He had said that the district land office had enlisted the help of the division members and the local village to identify the poor and the landless who could qualify to become participants.