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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 20th May 2009: 

RM12 billion PKFZ can of worms – time for it to be fully opened to the glare of Malaysian public and for everyone, regardless of status or position, responsible for the mega financial scandal to be brought to book and prosecuted in the courts

The RM12 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal took another twist when it is reported today that there is a fall-out between the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and the man he appointed to clean up and salvage the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) – Lim Thean Shiang, the Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager and PKFZ chief executive.

According to the Sun, Lim tendered his resignation last week which was accepted by Ong on Thursday. In a SMS to the Sun, Lim said his resignation must first be tabled before the PKA board meeting tomorrow for it to take effect.

Is there a suggestion that there might be a coup at the PKA Board meeting tomorrow and that Lim’s resignation might be rejected?

It is reported that the fallout between Ong and Lim was over the handling of the PKFZ scandal, both on the publication of the PwC audit as well as Lim’s briefing to Barisan Nasional backbenchers on May 5 on the project, which was made without Ong’s approval.

The “secret” briefing by Lim to the Barisan Nasional MPs is most improper and irregular.

Whether with or without his prior approval, Ong must assume full Ministerial responsibility for the “secret” briefing by Lim to the BN backbenchers on the PKFZ scandal, and give a full account to the nation – how many and who were the BN MPs who attended, the venue, time, how long the briefing, who were the PKA and Transport Ministry officials who attended, and what exactly was transacted at the briefing.

Was the Official Secrets Act breached in the briefing, as the reason which had been given so far for the protracted delays in publication of the PricewaterhouseCooper audit report on the PKFZ scandal is that certain aspects of the report is protected by the OSA.

Or was the special PKFZ briefing so “secretive” that nothing about it could be revealed to the public. If so, it is all the more important that all those who attended the “secretive” meeting be made public to avoid any suspicion that the independence of the BN backbenchers had been compromised by the PKFZ ‘secret” briefing and they should be disqualified from taking part in any debate or vote affecting the PKFZ question in Parliament.

Be that as it may, Malaysians are tired of the 14-month procrastination by Ong to fulfill his public pledge to “tell all” about the PKFZ scandal and make public the PricewaterhouseCooper audit report which he subsequently ordered.

Public disappointment at Ong’s failure to fulfill his public pledge has become even more acute following media reports, both local and foreign, that the PKFZ scandal had ballooned in cost in three stages, viz:

(i) from RM1.8 billion in 2002 under the then Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik (with the Cabinet given the assurance that not a single sen of public funds would be needed as it was a viable and self-financing private project);

(ii) to more than double the original cost at RM4.6 billion under Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy as Transport Minister ; and

(iii) to the current frightening figure of RM12 billion under Ong.

The Singapore Straits Times in its report dated May 7, 2009, said that “a financial crisis at Malaysia’s main port agency, which could saddle the government with losses exceeding RM12 billion (S$5 billion) is shaping up as a major policy test for the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak”.

It quoted “senior government officials” that the PricewaterhouseCooper audit report on the PKFZ “will show that losses stemming from bonds issued to finance the project could plunge it into insolvency by 2012.”

The Singapore Straits Times said the PwC report “ also details an array of alleged management irregularities at the free-trade zone development”, including “serious conflict-of-interest breaches between officials of the port authority andexecutives of private companies with close ties to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government”.

The time has come to end all procrastinations and for the RM12 billion PKFZ can of worms to be fully opened to the glare of Malaysian public and for everyone, regardless of status or position, responsible for the mega financial scandal to be brought to book and prosecuted in the courts. Whether from MCA, UMNO or any other Barisan Nasional component party, whether big guns or small fries, retired or current politicians including those in the present Najib administration, let them all pay the price for the RM12 billion PKFZ scandal.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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