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Puspahanas Dream Now a Reality

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s long overdue, foremost defence and security educational facility has finally been established.

The all-new RM100 million National Defence Education Centre in Precinct 1 of the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya is ready to begin operations.

The facility, which was first dreamt of nearly five decades ago, is more popularly known as by its Puspahanas (Pusat Pengajian Pertahanan Nasional).

Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin said Puspahanas would begin operations from next week when the Defence Ministry formally accepted the facility, upon completion of inspection and certification.

“The pioneer group of administrative staff has begun preparations to move into the facility.”

However, Zulkifli said, the first batch of students would only begin their courses in September,once Puspahanas was fully functional. He declined to elaborate or comment further.

It was brought to the New Straits Times’ attention that the delay in the student intake was to enable the current batches to complete their courses at various instituitions scattered around the Defence Ministry in Jalan Padang Tembak here.

Puspahanas is now the premier educational facility for the armed forces and it complements institutions like the Malaysian National Defence University in Sungai Besi, and the country’s recruit and officer cadet training facilities.

It was learnt that a ‘two-star’ general is expected to head Puspahanas as its first commandant. A defence industry spokesman said final touches for Puspahanas, which was envisioned 47 years ago, had been completed, and interior fittings, furniture and other amenities would be put into place.

The estimated cost of completion,including land acquisition, planning, development, engineering, architectural, construction and consultancy,is believed to be around RM100 million.

He said Puspahanas was complete with offices, lecture halls, classrooms and accommodation.

“Puspahanas will house the Armed Forces Defence College,the Armed Forces Staff College and the National Defence College (NDC), offering a variety of strategic and defence studies from diploma, degree, Masters to doctorate levels.”

He said the Armed Forces Staff College, or Haigate, prepared officers of the rank of major for career development, while the Armed Forces Defence College prepared lieutenant-colonels for promotions.

Both facilities are presently in the vicinity of the Defence Ministry in Jalan Padang Tembak.

The spokesman said:’The newly established NDC will cater to officers from the rank of colonel, or its equivalent from government agencies and related industries.

“There were plans to house the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security (Midas) at Puspahanas,but a new facility for the institute was secured at the Defence Ministry last year.”

The Puspahanas delay caused a chain reaction for the relocation of other armed forces’ facilities.

“Due to the delay, other military institutions, which were renting elsewhere,experienced delays in shifting to their new premises.

“For instance, the Armed Forces Joint Warfare Centre (Pesama) is supposed to occupy the vacated Haigate, while the Armed Forces Medical Services headquarters is supposed to move into the Defence College premises.

“The original plan to house Midas in Putrajaya was shelved and it moved from rented premises at Bangunan Zetro in Wangsa Maju to a new building within the Defence Ministry.”

The NST was informed that the delay resulted in the Defence Ministry incurring an estimated RM95,000 in monthly rental costs for the Armed Forces Medical Services headquarters to be temporarily housed at Menara KUB in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng here.

To date, the rental costs have ballooned to nearly RM3.5 million, the NST was told.

A defence contractor said Puspahanas was originally planned to be built at Templer’s Park in Rawang, Selangor, but the ministry was entangled in land takeovers and negotiations with suitable contractors from 1972 to 1985. Finally in 2005, former Selangor Umno leader Senator Datuk Raja Ropiaah Raja Abdullah’s company, Awan Megah Sdn Bhd, was awarded the project to be completed by 2011.”

Raja Ropiaah was reportedly awarded the project in exchange for some 80ha of land in Bukit Raja, Selangor, and RM27 million.

In 2008, then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officiated the project’s groundbreaking in Precint 1, Putrajaya.

In 2015, the Auditor-General’s Report revealed that the government incurred RM26.87 million in costs, owing to project delays and land devaluation.

The report said Putrajaya did not get the “best value for money” in the much-delayed project.

One weakness was the delay in construction by 282 days as of July 29, 2015. The government had to bear RM26.87 million in costs due to land devaluation.

Source: New Straits Times

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