Idris Jusoh: Besut education hub is Terengganu’s matter

By Yiswaree Palansamy

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh had declined comment on the RM746.26 million education hub near Besut, Terengganu that has purportedly fallen again into disrepair after it was vandalised and ransacked.

The minister said the project, which was reportedly his pet project when he was Terengganu mentri besar between 2004 and 2008, is under the purview of the state government and not his ministry.

“Nothing to do with the ministry, it's the state government. You have to ask state government for comments,” Idris told Malay Mail Online at the sidelines of Parliament.

Malay Mail Online reported today 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.

Malay Mail Online is seeking verification on the project’s status from Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

Last month, Ahmad Razif was reported saying in Malay daily Berita Harian that the project is expected to start operations this October.

Ahmad Razif said the state government is working together with the Higher Education Ministry led by Idris, who is also Besut MP, to realise the project.

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.

Post-Election 2013, Idris was reported as banking on his post as the second education minister then to transfer decisions regarding the knowledge centre from the state government to Putrajaya, which would effectively grant him full control of his pet project.

Photos in the leaked report showed damaged ceilings in the building.

Apart from the park’s RM60 million grand mosque that has been open to public since 2014, the rest of the project was stripped down in one way or another, from its library to even its district cooling system and sewage treatment plant.

A cost summary included in the report stated that RM872.5 million was budgeted for the project, more than double from the RM400 million estimate back in 2013.

Shockingly, a RM38 million main administration building was simply demolished half-way after RM17.86 million had been spent on it, due to substandard building materials and safety issues.

Of the total budget, only RM144.1 million remains, hardly enough to cover the refurbishing cost.

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.