Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 15th July 2009:
The one question Ong Tee Keat must answer at the PAC inquiry into PKFZ scandal tomorrow – whether he, and not Port Klang Authority, gave final approval for the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order after he became Transport Minister
When Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat appears before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal in Parliament tomorrow, he should clear the air whether he had given approval for the RM1.2 billion variation order by the PKFZ turnkey developer, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd or he merely acted as postman of Port Klang Authority (PKA) to transmit the PKA approval to the Prime Minister for payment.
Ong had earlier confirmed the authenticity of his correspondence which appeared on Internet last month, showing that on 10th May 2008, he had written to the Prime Minister seeking approval for RM1.2 billion payment to KDSB as variation order for the PKFZ project.
In his initial response from Paris during his junket to France to escape parliamentary accountability and responsibility, Ong defended the letter saying that he was merely relaying the PKA board's decision approving the RM1.2 billion variation order 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.
Ong’s was caught red-handed telling an untruth that he was merely acting as postman in forwarding PKA Board’s decision to the Prime Minister, as the contents of his May 10, 2008 letter was very clear in stating otherwise, as Ong wrote to the Prime Minister:
“6. Oleh yang demikian, saya pohon pertimbangan serta kelulusan YAB Datuk Seri ke atas perkara seperti tersebut di perenggan 3(i) dan 4.”
Perenggan 3(i) and (4) referred to KDSB’s RM1.2 billion variation order.
I was at first shocked that Ong 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 KDSB for PKFZ was proper and legitimate.
He seemed to have forgotten that one month before he endorsed the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order on May 10, 2008, 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 (before anyone knew that the scandal could balloon further to RM12.5 billion) – yet one month later, Ong could merrily endorse another RM1.2 billion PKFZ development cost variation order without batting an eyelid!
What is even more shocking has yet to come.
I have now been told that the PKA Board in February 2008 had not taken the final decision to approve the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order but had referred the whole matter to the Transport Minister for a decision, although the PKA Board recommended approval but the decision was to be taken by the Transport Minister.
If so, then the decision to approve the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order – which is even higher than the original cost of the PKFZ project as it was estimated to cost RM1.08 billion in 2002 – was taken by none other than Ong himself, although his two predecessors as Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy had played their deplorable roles in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
This is the one question Ong Tee Keat must answer at the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal tomorrow – whether he, and not Port Klang Authority, gave final approval for the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order after he became Transport Minister and on what basis.
Let Ong give direct, full and frank answer on this question without equivocation whatsoever, producing all relevant documentation to the PAC – or Ong will have to face a censure motion in Parliament.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor