June 21, 2012
Advanced Air Traffic Systems (AAT) Sdn Bhd linked to Former Minister’s Son
The 25-year-old son of a former minister has been found to be involved in the supply of an allegedly defective 26.05 million euro (RM128.4 million) air traffic control system to the government through a closed tender.
In addition, his Italian partner in the project is already plagued with a series of corruption scandals.
PKR leaders have claimed that the system supplied to the National Air Traffic Control Centre (NATCC) on December 13 last year was defective-on-arrival, but Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha denied this in a written reply to the Dewan Rakyat.
Not satisfied with the response, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar questioned whether it was the norm of the government to award important projects to the family members of cabinet ministers.
A closed tender is where only selected parties are invited to bid for the contract. The air traffic control system was installed by Advanced Air Traffic Systems (AAT) Sdn Bhd, in which Ikhwan Hafiz Jamaludin is a significant stakeholder and alternate director.
Ikhwan is the son of Rompin MP and former Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Jamaludin Jarjis (right), who is seen as a close ally to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
After his tenure, Jamaludin served as Ambassador to the United States, and is now a special envoy to the US with ministerial status.
Former DCA chief also on the board
Also on AAT’s board as its chairperson is Zolkipli Abdul, who was director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) until 1997. He and Ikhwan Hafiz were appointed to the board on August 1, 2011, according to the company profile obtained from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).
AAT is a joint venture between Italian radar systems provider Selex Sistemi Integriti SpA and two relatively obscure local companies, Tirai Variasi Sdn Bhd and Tahap Harmoni Sdn Bhd.
Google searches on Tirai Variasi Sdn Bhd and Tahap Harmoni yielded very little information.
Ikhwan and Zolkipli are also owners of Tirai Variasi, which holds a 50 percent stake in AAT, with Ikhwan holding a whopping 90 percent, while 70-year-old Zolkipli has the remaining 10 percent.
Tirai Variasi was incorporated in 2003, and Ikhwan has served on its board since August 2008, when he was aged 21.
Little is known about Tahap Harmoni and its owners Muhamad Munip and Puteh Muhamed.
According to a press statement issued in September 2009 by Selex’s parent company Finmeccanica, Selex has been in Malaysia since the 1990s, supplying civilian radar systems.
In 1994, the AAT joint venture was formed, “with the aim of know-how and technology transfer to Malaysia, especially in the air traffic control systems field”.
On the other hand, Selex, which owns 30 percent of the venture, is no stranger to controversy.According to an AFP report, Selex has been investigated since 2010 over allegations that it had been given no-bid contracts by the Italian civil aviation agency Enav.
Most recently, the probe led authorities to search the home of the Vatican’s former de facto bank chief Ettore Gotti Tedeschi on June 6 for documents pertaining to the case.
Selex is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica SpA, a defence company that is facing its own set of corruption allegations.
These range from claims that its former chairperson had created false invoices and slush funds to pay off politicians to allegations that its current chairperson had greased helicopter deals with India when he was the head of its subsidiary, AgustaWestland. Finmeccanica and Selex have consistently been denying any wrongdoing.
No response from the Italian companies
Repeated attempts by Malaysiakini since June 8 to contact AAT, Selex, Finmeccanica and Zolkipli for comment have not yielded any response.
However, Malaysiakini visited Ikhwan’s listed address yesterday, where his aide Siti Zubaidah confirmed that he is the son of Jamaluddin Jarjis.
She also offered to get Ikhwan to contact Malaysiakini to respond to our questions.
When Malaysiakini visited the AAT office in Shah Alam about 12.30pm today, a spokesperson, who declined to be named, said the company was aware of the allegations and had issued a directive to staff not to comment on the matter.
Two weeks ago, PKR Vice-Presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar, N Surendran and Tian Chua had disclosed purported documents leaked from the DCA and NATCC. They claimed that the air traffic control system that had been installed suffered some 68 defects that had led to an increase of workload and stress among the air traffic controllers,
As a consequence, senior officers of the controllers had told controllers to be “extra careful” and had lobbied the director of the NATCC for an immediate remedy, or for the older system to be restored.
One of the documents, purportedly a letter of undertaking from Selex, promised to make the repairs in March this year. When Nurul Izzah raised the issue in Parliament, the Transport Minister wrote back saying that the system “is performing well” and that “there has not been any incident until now”.