Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the launching of Lee Hwa Beng's book: “PKFZ: A Nation's Trust Betrayed” on Tuesday, 17th April 2012:
A Pakatan Rakyat government in Putrajaya will set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal
Firstly, I thank the organisers for inviting me to this book launch for Dato' Lee Hwa Beng's publication “PKFZ: A Nation's Trust Betrayed” (written together with Lee Siew Lian) in the company of Datuk Ong Tee Keat, one of the early “transformation” ministers in the “transformation” Cabinet of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
I commend Dato' Lee Hwa Beng for his book on his three-year “national service” as Port Klang Authority Chairman after the 2008 general elections to try to pry open the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal to promote a culture of accountability, integrity and good governance.
Unravelling the full horrors of the PKFZ scandal – which I have described as not only “a can of worms” but “a swamp of crocodiles” - and bringing to justice those responsible for this “heinous crime” against the nation is, however, a still very uncompleted work.
The PKFZ scandal was one of the dominating issues in Parliament before and after the 12th general elections on March 8, 2008.
On 27th November 2007, I moved a censure motion in Parliament by way of a token RM10 salary cut against the then Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy for the consistent wall of denial, equivocation and prevarication in refusing to give full and proper parliamentary accounting for the PKFZ scandal.
I tried to make things easy by reducing the public furore over the PKFZ scandal into five simple questions. After each question, I specifically asked Chan to give a “yes or no” answer – to deny if the facts I had mentioned were untrue, and to explain and justify what he and the government had done if what I had said was undisputed and true.
The five questions were:
In his reply in Parliament on the RM10-cut motion, Chan completely ignored the five questions on the core issues of the PKFZ scandal, as well as other questions which I had posed, including:
Datuk Ong Tee Keat inherited these questions after he took over as Transport Minister after the 2008 general elections, but despite all the post-308 political tsunami developments, like the Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) audit report into the PKFZ and the ongoing charges against two former Transport Ministers, Tun Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy, the full story of the PKFZ scandal including adequate answers to the questions I posed in Parliament in November 2007 have still to be told.
In one of my 108 questions which I had posed during my three-questions-a day on the PKFZ in mid 2009 after the Prime Minister had publicly said he had directed his Transport Minister to “provide answers on every question raised by any party” involving the PKFZ scandal, I had asked Ong why he had misled Parliament and the nation in denying that his two predecessors as Transport Minister, Ling and Chan, had unlawfully issued four Letters of Support to Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB), the PKFZ turnkey contractor, to raise RM4 billion bonds, which were regarded as government guarantees by the market.
May be Ong can throw some light on this question, now that he is no more in the Cabinet.
As recounted by Hwa Beng's book, after the PwC report, the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a “Super Task Force” on the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal in September 2009, headed by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan.
What has happened to this PKFZ “Super Task Force” as two and a half years later, Najib has not released even an iota of news with regard to the activities and findings (if any) of this Super Task Force.
It is a timely reminder that only a handful of people involved in this mother of all scandals have been investigated and charged. To date, the following six people have been charged: OC Phang, former general manager of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) for criminal breach of trust; Steven Abok, the former Chief Operating Officer of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd for making false claims; Architect Bernard Tan Seng Swee of BTA Architect for making false claims; Law Jenn Dong, former engineer at Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) for making false claims; Tun Ling Liong Sik, the former transport minister, for cheating the Malaysian government; and Chan Kong Choy, another former transport minister for cheating former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Badawi.
But as Lee Hwa Beng’s book shows, there are many people associated with this scandal who have not been properly called to account. As such, Najib should immediately release the findings of this “super task force” and let the public know the answer to the following questions:
Najib’s ‘elegant silence’ on the PKFZ scandal since 2009 makes a mockery of the Government Transformation Program’s Corrruption NKRA which list one of its chief objectives as eradicating ‘grand corruption’.
With this non-existent commitment on the part of the Prime Minister to bring those responsible for this massive scandal to justice, it is no surprise that Malaysia’s ranking on the Transparency Corruption Perception Index dropped four places from 56 in 2010 to 60 in 2011.
The lack of action taken by this ‘Super Task Force’ is yet another example of a long list of gigantic U-turns made by Najib and his administration since becoming Prime Minister in 2009.
After the publication of the PwC report, I had in June 2009 given notice to Parliament Speaker to move an emergency motion of urgent public importance to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scndal, stating:
“The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) audit report into the PKFZ made public on May 28, 2009 was most unsatisfactory as its terms of reference were restricted to 'a position review' instead of wide-ranging inquiry as to how a RM1.1 billion scandal in 2002 under Tun Ling Liong Sik as Transport Minister, could more than quadruple to RM4.6 billion under Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy as Transport Minister in 2007 and now further doubled to RM7.453 billion and heading towards the figure of RM12.5 billion under the present Transport Minister!
“Although the Prime Minister had on 29th May publicly directed the Transport Minister to answer every question raised by any party on the PwC report on PKFZ, and I had been posing three questions a day on the PKFZ since 30th May, no satisfactory answers had been forthcoming from the Transport Minister.
“RM12.5 billion is not chicken-feed. It is equivalent to five RM2.5 billion BMF scandals. RM12.5 billion can be used to build 25 universities at RM500 million each; 125 hospitals at RM100 million each; 1,250 schools at RM100 million each; 312,500 low-cost houses at RM40,000 each or give everyone of the 27 million Malaysians regardless of age a payout of RM338!
“Only a Royal Commission of Inquiry, where previous Transport Ministers, PKA Chairmen and Board members, as well as the relevant government officials in the Transport Ministry and Finance Ministry are summoned to testify on their role can do justice for accountability and integrity in the ‘scandal of scandals’.”
This motion was denied.
I posed this question in my introduction to Hwa Beng's book: “Would Malaysians have to await a new government in Putrajaya before the full story of the infamous PKFZ story is fully told and all the parties involved in PKFZ 'mother of all scandals' brought to book?”
Let me conclude by declaring that if Pakatan Rakyat makes it to Putrajaya in the next general elections expected any time now, a Royal Commission of Inquiry would be set up to get to the bottom of the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor