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Letter to PM to ask for urgent response to four issues raised in 2008 Budget debate in Parliament which cannot wait for some two months later in November for Ministerial winding-up � RM4.6b PKFZ bailout scandal, RM8.1 billion discrepancy in 2008 development estimates, e-Kesihatan and pig-rearing crisis

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): I have written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, asking him to respond to urgent issues raised in the first three days of the 2008 Budget in Parliament which cannot wait for Ministerial replies some two months later scheduled for early November when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes on Oct. 22 after the 39-day break for the fasting month and Hari Raya holidays.

I listed four urgent issues which had been raised in Parliament in the first three days of budget debate earlier this week and which are crying out for immediate government response and action, viz:

1. The RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal

Accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance principles demand instant end of the government�s denial syndrome both in and outside Parliament about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal � particularly at a time when the Prime Minister is trying to assure Malaysians that the government means business and would not brook any hanky-panky following the shocking exposes of the pervasive culture of impunity, corruption, waste and mismanagement of public funds in the 2006 Auditor-General�s Reports.

When compared to the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal, the corruption and mismanagement of millions or tens of millions of ringgit of funds exposed by the 2006 Auditor-General�s Reports were mere �chicken-feed�.

However, if the Cabinet can be so irresponsible as to continue to deny that there is a RM4.6 billion bailout of the Port Klang Free Zone scandal, while the culture of impunity persists in providing immunity from legal and accountability consequences for those responsible for the RM4.6 billion bailout when the government had right from the start been given a very categorical assurance that the PKFZ project was feasible, self-financing and would not require a single ringgit of public funding, a wrong message is being sent out - that all the public hullabaloo over the Auditor-General�s Reports 2006 are mere �sandiwara� and not meant to be taken seriously, as absolutely nothing would ensue.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that the government would not hinder the Anti-Corruption Agency from carrying out investigations into the Auditor-General�s 2006 Reports.

However, conspicuously absent is any public assurance from Abdullah that the ACA is fully authorized to conduct full and unfettered investigations into the PKFZ scandal, including the former Transport Minister Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the present Finance Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy who had abused their Ministerial powers in having unlawfully given government guarantees for the private issue of RM4 billion bonds for the PKFZ project without Cabinet approval � forcing the Cabinet to give retrospective approval for the illegal guarantees in a RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout.

2. The RM8.1 billion difference for 2008 Development Estimates between the Finance Minister�s budget speech and the Finance Ministry�s Economic Report 2007/2008

How can there be such a huge difference of RM8.1 billion for the 2008 Development Estimates between Abdullah�s budget presentation on the one hand and the Finance Ministry�s Economic Report 2007/2008, all presented to Parliament on the same day last Friday?

There can be no justification for such a huge difference in the two sets of figures as the Finance Ministry�s Economic Report 2007/2008 was signed off by Abdullah as Finance Minister in a preface dated 7th September 2007 (the very same day as the budget presentation).

A difference of RM8.1 billion would have sent the whole budgetary estimates awry, with the estimated budget deficit for 2008 estimated at 3.1 per cent of the GDP shooting up to 4.6 per cent � a most unfortunate reflection on the professionalism and competence of government budgetary expertise which could only undermine public and investor confidence.

3. The e-Kesihatan monopoly concession awarded to Supremme Systems Sdn. Bhd without tender

Public interest demand an immediate suspension of the 15-year e-Kesihatan monopoly concession to Supremme Systems Sdn. Bhd, which is to take effect next month, to conduct annual medical tests for commercial drivers.

The medical profession is up in arms against the e-Kesihatan scheme which seems to be the latest example of parasitic rent-seeking rip-off monopoly in the region of hundreds of millions of ringgit at public expense to the benefit of a handful of cronies.

As there is already a system in place to provide medical tests for commercial drivers involving medical practitioners with the JPJ directly, this system can be further improved to deal with abuses or weaknesses instead of creating a new system which is clearly purely rent-seeking in nature.

4. Cabinet decision of 5th September that Malacca pig farmers can apply for aid from Bank Negara�s Fund For Food to install proper waste system rendered meaningless by arbitrary and high-handed Malacca state government decision to reduce 97,000 pigs in 17-day period

In a week, the Malacca state government�s arbitrary and high-handed deadline for the reduction of 97,000 pigs in Malacca state in 17 days will expire on September 21 and is likely to spark off any another confrontation like the nine-hour standoff as happened on September 4 - between an armed-to-the-teeth 2,000-strong multi-agency contingent, together with police FRU in full riot-gear, water cannons, personnel in space-suits and a helicopter in constant reconnaissance on one side, and defenceless men, women and children forming human barrcades on the other to protect their ricebowls.

The 4th September nine-hour standoff was a great shame and disgrace not only to Malacca but to Malaysia on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

There must not be another repetition of the Sept. 4 standoff especially as the Cabinet at its 5th September 2007 meeting had decided that Malacca pig farmers can apply for aid from Bank Negara�s Fund For Food to install proper waste system.

The Cabinet decision, as announced by the Human Resources Minister and MP for Alor Gajah, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn, must not be rendered meaningless by the arbitrary and high-handed Malacca state government decision to reduce 97,000 pigs in 17-day period.

The Malacca State Government has escalated its policy of confrontation with the pig rearers in Malacca, making more and more unreasonable demands which can only further mar the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations. The Cabinet must ensure that its Sept. 5 decision is not rendered meaningless and that all pig farmers could apply to Bank Negara�s Fund for Food to install proper waste system and that the directive to reduce 97,000 pigs by Sept. 21 is rescinded.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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