30 Mei 2011

Sungai Besi Base to be Relocated to Sendayan

30 Mei 2011

Sendayan, Negri Sembilan (image : NST)

GEMAS: The Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur, will be relocated to Sendayan in Negri Sembilan.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who made the announcement yesterday, declined to elaborate but said that further details on the relocation would be given later.

Sendayan is about 15km from Seremban. There had been plans for the site to be made a Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) for AirAsia, but the plans were shelved.

Najib was speaking to reporters after launching the Community Rehabilitation Centre in Kem Syed Sirajuddin here.

Air Force chief Tan Sri Rodzali Daud had earlier said the air force was prepared to relocate if the government wanted to turn the Sungai Besi base into a commercial hub.

He said if instructed to move, all assets, including the headquarters and aircraft which were at the base, would be moved to the Subang Air Force base, or any other suitable location.

"We have no objections, but hope the relocation will provide us with better and modern infrastructure."

The Sungai Besi air force base was the first airport in the country to be given international status on Aug 1, 1956, by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the nation's first prime minister.

Earlier in his speech, Najib said the government would enter into more "unique partnerships" in future with the aim of reducing manpower and costs, as well as maximising the use of existing assets to generate income.

He said it was time for the government to think creatively and find solutions for social, economical and political problems.

"We cannot think conventionally anymore. If in the past we wanted to reduce the crime rate, we would have immediately asked for an additional budget, increased manpower and more prisons.

"However, now under the Blue Ocean Strategy way of thinking, we need to find ways to reduce crime using the lowest budget possible. This is what we are doing today with our community rehabilitation centres being set up in army camps."

Najib said the cost of rehabilitating 300 prisoners at the camp was only RM7 million a year compared with caring for 400 prisoners in a jail which cost about RM50 million a year.

"The community rehabilitation centres are a clear example of how successful a 'unique partnership' can be. To make these centres work, the Home, Defence and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry ministries have to work together."

Najib said phase two of the programme would be extended to the rehabilitation of drug addicts and would involve the National Anti-Drug Agency.

The community rehabilitation centre at Kem Syed Sirajuddin is the second after the prime minister launched the first one at Kem Mahkota Kluang in Johor on March 26.

"During my walk around the camp, I spoke to six prisoners and their families and they were all thankful to the government for coming up with such a programme.

"Here, they are able to see their families regularly, learn new skills and even earn up to RM200 per month, compared with about RM30 per month in jail.

"He said the government would discuss with Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (Tekun) on the possibility of giving these prisoners a small loan to venture into the agriculture sector on their release.

Three other community rehabilitation centres would be set up in Kem Desa Pahlawan, Kelantan; Kem Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Alor Star; and Kem Batu 10, 4th mechanised brigade, Kuantan, Pahang.

In Muar, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera and 1Malaysia Development Bhd were the developers of the new RMAF base in Sendayan.

"Once the Sendayan base is completed, the developers will turn the Sungai Besi base into a commercial hub, which will include low-cost housing for the lower-income group," Zahid told the media after officiating the Bakri Umno division meeting here yesterday. Also present was Bakri Umno chief Datuk Saipol Bahri Suib.

He said the developers would build all the facilities at the new base, which is as big as the Sungai Besi base, including the runway, control tower and hangars.

"We will only move into the new base once all the facilities and equipment are in place. The moving process is expected to take 60 months to complete," said Zahid.

Asked if the ministry had a deadline for the developers to complete the new base, he said the ministry had a timeline but declined to elaborate.

(New Straits Times)

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