KUALA LMPUR, March 16 ― Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh clarified today that his ministry has not formalised any ties with a controversial education hub in Besut, despite an announcement by Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman last month.
The Besut MP reiterated that his ministry cannot intervene in the project as it remains under the state government’s purview, following revelations that the project called Taman Ilmu has been ransacked and looted.
“Up until now, the ministry has not received any formal acceptance from the state government. The project is under the state government and the ministry cannot intervene in state projects.
“Nor do I have a wish to interfere with the state government projects,” Idris told reporters at the sidelines of Parliament.
Last month, Ahmad Razif was reported saying in Malay daily Berita Harian that the project is expected to start operations this October.
Ahmad Razif further said the state government was working together with the Higher Education Ministry led by Idris to realise the project.
The project was initiated at the tail-end of Idris’ administration as Terengganu mentri besar, but he maintained that his ministry now is not involved in any way with it.
He also stressed that its funding were unrelated to his ministry’s budget.
Malay Mail Online reported yesterday that a leaked report dated October 2016 estimated that it will now take another RM230.6 million simply to restore the project in the seaside village of Tembila to just 60 per cent of its original target.
A cost summary included in the report stated that RM872.5 million was budgeted for the project, more than double that of the original RM400 million estimate back in 2013.
Shockingly, a RM38 million main administration building was simply demolished midway through construction after RM17.86 million had already been spent on it, due to substandard building materials and safety issues.
PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, Parti Amanah Negara’s Kuala Terengganu MP Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah, and PAS’ Batu Burok assemblyman Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi have since urged the Higher Education Ministry and Terengganu state government to take immediate action against the situation.
Idris today did not respond to the statement, and refused to elaborate on the project that is situated in his Parliamentary constituency.
In 2013, Malay Mail Online reported that construction at the site had been slow and, in some parts, even came to a standstill after Idris’ successor and political rival Datuk Seri Ahmad Said took over administration of Terengganu. It was originally planned to be completed by 2008.
Work on the park started in the middle of 2007, about three years after Idris succeeded in wresting back Terengganu from a short-lived PAS rule, and a year shy of the election that would see state Ruler, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, replace him with Ahmad.