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Abdullah should explain in his 2008 budget tomorrow the full case for the government bailout of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal to set an example of government accountability and financial integrity to all Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries
(Parliament, Thursday): When presenting the 2008 budget tomorrow, the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should explain the full case for the government bailout of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal to set an example of government accountability and financial integrity to all Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.
This is because for the past two days, both the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek bin Husin and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Datuk Seri Dr. Helmi bin Yahaya had been misleading Parliament and the nation about the true nature and character of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.
In the 2007 supplementary estimates, the Finance Ministry asked for RM260 million for Port Klang Authority without giving any explanation as to its true purpose.
It was from my exchange with Helmi during the winding-up of the debate at the committee stage yesterday that it emerged that the RM260 million sum was the first amount of the RM4.6 billion government bailout for PKFZ, as beginning this year, the first annual payment of RM520 million for the RM4.6 billion bailout for the bonds raised by Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd – the PKFZ turnkey contractor - has to be made.
It was also only after I had made persistent demand, declaring that this was information that Parliament and Malaysian taxpayers have right to access, that Helmi read out the schedule of repayments in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout, viz:
2007 - RM510 million
2008 - RM660 million
2009 - RM660 million
2010 - RM772 million
2011 - RM487 million
2012 - RM733 million
2013 - RM170 million
2014 - RM170 million
2015 - RM170 million
2016 - RM170 million
2017 - RM179 million
Total - RM4,681 million
However, Helmi like Awang Adek in Parliament on Tuesday suffered from the denial syndrome and denied that this was a RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout by the government. Both also refused to answer specific questions which I posed to them.
For instance, I had asked Helmi why the development costs for PKFZ had ballooned from the original RM400 million to RM2.8 billion. Furthermore, whether the escalation of the PKFZ development costs was unlawful as it had not complied with the requirement that there should be Cabinet approval for any increase in development costs which exceeded RM100 million.
In the case of Awang Adek, he avoided the specific questions which I had raised during his winding-up during the policy debate on the Supplementary Estimates on Tuesday, such as:
It is no surprise that the Public Accounts Committee which met this morning is not satisfied with the explanation given by Port Klang Authority over the PKFZ bailout scandal – as the true facts are clearly even more shocking and outrageous than what had been admitted by both Awang and Helmi.
This is why the time has come for an end to all the pretences and parliamentary farce of denial over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.
As Finance Minister, Abdullah must come to Parliament when presenting the 2008 Budget tomorrow to give a full accounting as to why he has broken his pledge when he became Prime Minister 46 months ago that there would be no bailout of mega-billion-ringgit “white elephant” projects which end up in benefiting Barisan Nasional cronies at public expense – by giving his approval for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout.
He cannot just pass the buck to the Deputy Finance Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry who are forced to pretend in Parliament that there is no RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout – when everyone in the country and the world can see the advent of the first and biggest financial scandal and bailout to start the administration of any Prime Minister in 50 years of Malaysian history.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Let Abdullah admit as Prime Minister and Finance Minister that his administration has embarked on a RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout and explain the justification for such a bailout.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman