KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Sungai Udang assemblyman Datuk Seri Idris Haron has denied granting approval for the controversial Melaka Gateway land reclamation when he was chief minister, saying he only supported it on behalf of the state government.
The state lawmaker now at the centre of an even bigger row following the dissolution of the Melaka state assembly told news portal The Malaysian Insight that approval was granted by the National Land Council (NLC).
“I am not saying I supported it in a personal capacity but I signed [the letter of support] on behalf of the state government. It does not amount to abuse of power,” Idris was quoted saying in the report published today.
“It was the National Land Council that approved the project. It is a committee chaired by the deputy prime minister,” he added.
Idris was Melaka chief minister from May 2013 to May 2018.
The RM43 billion Melaka Gateway project to build several artificial islands was launched in 2014 by then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and was supposed to start in 2018, but was cancelled when the Pakatan Harapan coalition came to power.
Idris claimed the land reclamation itself dated back to the 1970s and that he inherited the project when he took office.
He said he was supporting it on behalf of the state government as it was beneficial for the state.
“It is not easy to get the green light. They have to consider the potential for development.
“There has to be something unique to attract investors to become an economic corridor, so we offered freehold land, which was approved by the council,” he was quoted as saying.
Idris was recently sacked from Umno together with Pantai Kundor assemblyman Datuk Nor Azman Hassan for withdrawing their support for Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali as Melaka chief minister, triggering the collapse of the state government.
The other two who followed them were Telok Mas assemblyman Datuk Noor Effandi Ahmad who was from Bersatu and independent Pengkalan Batu assemblyman Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee.
Prior to the Melaka assembly dissolution, Idris claimed he withdrew his support for Sulaiman as there were several Umno leaders in the state who had been monopolising economic projects and accused them of cheating the federal government out of sand royalties.
Investigators from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) recently met Idris to obtain further information on his allegations.