PAC finds faults with 'flying car' project, including funding

By THE STAR | 28 November 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The "flying car" project received funding of RM20mil from the government despite it being touted as a private project, says Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In a report tabled today on the air mobility vehicle, the PAC said although the Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Redzuan Mohd Yusof announced that the project was privately funded, the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) approved a sum of RM20mil for investment in Aerodyne Ventures Sdn Bhd.

Aerodyne Ventures, the company developing the project, received the money in November.

"MIGHT, through Venture Tech Sdn Bhd, approved the investment in Aerodyne Ventures.

"It was acknowledged by the Economic Affairs Ministry that the funds were transferred to Aerodyne Ventures on Nov 1, 2019," said PAC in its report.

It added that the minister had openly promoted Aerodyne Ventures since February this year. However, the PAC said the government had not done due diligence on Aerodyne Ventures as to whether it had the financial, intellectual property rights, expertise or capacity to develop the project.

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"The PAC finds that the announcement on the 'flying car' development project by the minister was done too early without detailed planning or informing the Cabinet about it.

"The minister promoted the project as if it was a national project. The PAC found that this project is actually a private initiative," said the report.

Redzuan had also said Aerodyne Ventures would be using local technology to develop the project, but the PAC found that the prototype would be built in Japan as it had the ecosystem and facilities to build flying cars.

"The PAC also takes note that there are no laws currently on the monitoring and the usage of flying cars in Malaysia," said the report.

The PAC included its recommendations in the report, among them that there should be preparation and tabling of a complete Cabinet paper to get approvals on matters involving the rakyat.

"Planning and research must also be done thoroughly before a project is announced to the public so it does not give a negative perception or become a matter that can be criticised by society," said the PAC.

It also advised the Entrepreneur Development Ministry to have co-ordination and co-operation with other ministries, agencies, and departments in implementing any government programmes or projects before publicity was sought.

"The Entrepreneur Development Ministry is advised to do its due diligence before making any announcement and decision.

"Venture Tech also needs to do more monitoring on the spending done by Aerodyne Ventures to ensure the investment of RM20mil by Venture Tech is actually used for the purpose that it was approved for," said the PAC.

The PAC also asked the National Audit Department to conduct an audit on the RM20mil investment.

On Feb 26 this year, Redzuan said Malaysia's first "flying car" was expected to be unveiled this year. Although the minister had insisted on calling the vehicle a "flying car", it cannot transform into a roadgoing car like the Terrafugia. Aerodyne Ventures, in fact, said its project is actually a drone powered by four motors running off a lithium-ion battery.

In March, he told Parliament that the government's endorsement of the privately funded project was aimed at developing human capital.

Malaysians made fun of the "flying car" project on social media, with some asking if the model used to represent the expected car was made from KDK fans.