Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang at DAP PJ Hqrs on Friday, 19th June 2009:
Did OTK regard the post of Transport Minister as just a postman or delivery boy for PKA without any ministerial responsibility to ensure that the RM1.2 billion variation order demanded by Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd for PKFZ was proper and legitimate?
My three questions (No.61 to No. 63 on the 21st day in the current series) to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat on the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal today are:
No. 1: Yesterday I had asked Ong to confirm authenticity of the exchange of letters which appeared on the website, http://pkfz.blogspot.com/, showing that on 10th May 2008, he had written to the Prime Minister seeking approval for RM1.2 billion payment as variation order for the PKFZ project to its turnkey developer, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSN).
In his response from Paris in his blog, confirming the authenticity of the exchange of letters, Ong said that he was merely relaying the Port Klang Authority (PKA) board's decision to the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Ong said: "I was then into my ministerial job for less than two months and the PKA board's decision was made even before my time. Besides, the PricewaterhouseCoopers had not even started their position review work."
He added that the variation order was approved by the PKA board in 2008 and had written to him asking him to write to Abdullah to apply for the additional funding.
He noted that at that time PKA was also at risk of defaulting payment as the deadline to meet its financial obligations was approaching.
I am stumped by the sheer arrogance and utter sense of irresponsibility of Ong’s reply, adopting a position disclaiming all responsibility for the RM1.2 billion KDSN variation order.
I want to ask Ong whether he regarded the post of Transport Minister as just a postman or delivery boy for PKA without any ministerial responsibility to ensure that the RM1.2 billion variation order demanded by KDSN for PKFZ was proper and legitimate?
Has he forgotten that one month before he endorsed the RM1.2 billion KDSN variation order, he had publicly declared in early April 2008 that he would “tell all” about the PKFZ scandal, how the project had ballooned to RM4.6 billion – yet one month later, Ong was merrily endorsing another RM1.2 billion PKFZ development cost variation order without batting an eyelid?
Wasn’t Ong aware that even if he wanted to endorse KDSN’s RM1.2 billion PKFZ variation order, he had to take it to the Cabinet for approval as this was one of the specific conditions of Cabinet approval for the PKFZ project in 2002 - that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ would require prior Cabinet approval?
Here there was a not just a RM100 million variation order but one which exceeded the RM100 million limit by 12 times!
When did the Cabinet alter its 2002 decision that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ require prior Cabinet approval (binding the two former Transport Ministers, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy) as to exempt the RM1.2 billion variation order during the time Ong as Transport Minister from being endorsed by the Cabinet?
Ong could not claim that he did not know about this specific Cabinet condition for the PKFZ project on the ground that he was not in the Cabinet in 2002, as I had repeatedly mentioned this Cabinet condition in Parliament since 2007!
Ong also could not claim that he did not have the time to submit the RM1.2 billion PKFZ variation order to Cabinet for approval.
Ong was appointed Transport Minister on Tuesday,18th March 2008, and there were eight Wednesdays (when Cabinet met) before Ong sent off his endorsement letter asking for approval for the RM1.2 billion variation order from the Prime Minister.
Why didn’t Ong bring up this RM1.2 billion PKFZ development cost variation order demanded by KDSB at any one of these eight Cabinet meetings before he shot off his letter to the Prime Minister asking for approval to release the RM1.2 billion payments?
If this is not Ministerial dereliction of duty, I do not know what it is!
Question No. 2: I welcome the announcement by the Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Paul Low’s announcement of his resignation as a life member of MCA, so as not to compromise his appointment as Chairman of PKFZ ad hoc committee on corporate governance and his impartiality in investigating the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
I had publicly stated that I had not doubted Paul Low’s integrity and was prepared to give him the opportunity to “walk the talk” on making a significant contribution to improving the system of governance and integrity in government agencies.
The only question is whether Paul Low and the PKFZ ad hoc committee on corporate governance will be allowed to fully probe into all the past PFKZ misdeeds,misuse of powers, conflict of interests, corrupt practices or all forms of malpractices which landed the country with a RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal though it started off as a RM1.1 billion project in 2002 under Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik before quadrupling more than four times to RM4.6 billion in 2007 under Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy as Transport Minister.
This question is pertinent as Ong had declared after the announcement of the PKFZ ad hoc committee on corporate governance that “we have had enough of investigations”, implying that Pau Low and his committee would not be able to probe into any past misdeeds of the PKFZ scandal.
Can Ong answer this question?
No. 3 – The first week of Parliament has ended and MPs are still not given copies of the PwC report on the PKFZ and the appendices, although this was virtually promised by Ong through the PKFZ official website.
Let me ask Ong one specific question: Will the PwC report and appendices be given to MPs before the current meeting ends on Jun. 30?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor