Media Statement (3) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 11th August 2009:
Open Letter to PAC Chairman Azmi Khalid that he should avoid conflict-of-interest as former Cabinet Minister in 2007 and disqualify himself from conducting the PAC inquiry into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal
YB Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid,
YB Datuk Seri,
I take the liberty through this Open Letter to ask you to avoid conflict-of-interest as former Cabinet Minister in 2007 to disqualify yourself from conducting the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.
I had earlier written to you in a letter dated 17th June 2009 asking you to step down as Chairman of the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal as you were a Cabinet Minister from 2004 to 2008, a period when the previous Cabinet had made various decisions concerning PKFZ, including giving retrospective approval for the four Letters of Support unlawfully issued by the two previous Transport Ministers, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy to guarantee the RM4 billion bonds issued by the PKFZ turnkey developer, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB) as well as the RM4.6 billion Cabinet decision to bail out PKFZ.
You raised my letter at the PAC meeting the same day on 17th June 2009 and as you subsequently disclosed publicly, the majority of the PAC were satisfied with your assurance that you had no personal involvement in the PKFZ when you were Minister from 2004 to 2008 and that there was no need to disqualify yourself in the PAC inquiry into PKFZ.
I am raising this matter a second time as the issue of conflict-of-interest not personally, but as a Minister in the previous government when it took the decision to approve the RM4.6 billion bailout of PKFZ, could no longer avoided.
PAC has summoned the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to appear before its PKFZ inquiry tomorrow to give his opinion on the legality or otherwise of the four Letters of Support which had plunged the country into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
Wouldn’t the PAC inquiry tomorrow take on the character of a farce and charade with you sitting as PAC Chairman asking for the legal opinion of the AG, when in 2007 you had sat in the Cabinet and received and accepted the very same legal opinion of the Attorney-General that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for the RM4 billion bonds raised by KDSB in the bond market for PKFZ project – and that they were illegally issued by Ling and Chan and which was why the Cabinet had to give retrospective approval for the Four Letters of Support?
You should in fact vacate from the chair of PAC Chairman in the PKFZ inquiry to testify why you and other Cabinet Ministers agreed with the Attorney-General’s opinion in 2007 that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for which the Cabinet had to give retrospective approval.
Although late to step down as Chairman of the PAC inquiry, it is still the proper thing for you to do as it is never too late to do what is right, i.e. to stand down and disqualify yourself from chairing the rest of the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal.
That this is a course that you should take has been strengthened by the latest developments of the PKFZ scandal – the final admissions of up to RM1 billion financial irregularities in a report of the PKFZ special task force, described as “tip of the icebert,” and the police reports lodged by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) Chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng against KDSB and BTA Architect over the financial irregularities.
This has proved you were completely wrong when a fortnight ago you blamed the PKFZ scandal on “a group of incompetent people” from day one – as it was not just incompetence but the lack of integrity, from the highest Ministerial level downwards, which must be held responsible for the PKFZ “mother of all scandals”.
The PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal must probe into the various degrees of Ministerial responsibility by the different Cabinet Ministers in the previous government (which includes you) in accordance with the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility.
The decision to disqualify yourself from the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal is one which you have to take on your own conscience as it cannot to passed to the majority of the PAC members comprising Barisan Nasional MPs.
Lim Kit Siang
MP for Ipoh Timor
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor