Media Comment by Lim Kit Siang in Port Klang on Thursday, 28th May 2009:
PwC report on Port Klang Free Port (PKFZ) Scandal – has it answers to five questions I posed to Ong Tee Keat on 9th April 2009?
I welcome the public release of the PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) audit report into the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, which I had been pressuring the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat in the past year, which had been intensified in the past two months, not only on Ong, but also on the Cabinet and the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
I commend the Prime Minister and Ong for the publication of the PwC report on the PKFZ scandal. In fact, there should have been no foot-dragging and procrastination in withholding the PwC report from MPs and public if the Cabinet is serious about accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.
I would not say anything until I have the opportunity to study the PwC report, except to say that the first thing I would look for is whether the PwC report furnish answers to five questions on the PKFZ scandal which I posed to Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, on 9th April last year, viz:
1. Was it true that when the Port Klang Authority and the Transport Ministry insisted on buying the 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land for PKFZ at RM25 psf on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis, in the face of strong objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Treasury which had recommended that the land be acquired at RM10 psf, the Cabinet had given its approval subject to two conditions: (i) categorical assurance by the Transport Minister that the PKFZ proposal was feasible and self-financing and would not require any public funding; and (ii) that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ would require prior Cabinet approval.
2. In the event, the first condition was breached when the PKFZ project ballooned from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion requiring government intervention and bailout while the second condition was breached with the original PKFZ development costs of RM400 million ballooning to RM2.8 billion without any prior Cabinet approval ever sought for every RM100 million increase in development costs.
3. The Transport Minister 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. The Transport Minister had no such powers to issue financial guarantees committing the government, as it could only be issued by the Finance Minister and only after Cabinet approval. The first Letter of Support was issued by the former Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik on May 28, 2003, which was Liong Sik’s last day as Transport Minister while the other three were issued by Kong Choy.
4. Whether it wasn’t true that in recognition that the four unlawful “Letters of Support” of the Transport Minister had nonetheless given implicit government guarantee to the market that the Cabinet had in middle of last year gave retrospective approval for the unlawful and unauthorized four Letters of Support by the Transport Ministers in the past four years creating RM4.6 billion liability for the government in the bailout of PKFZ.
5. Why no action had been taken against the two previous Transport Ministers, both Liong Sik and Kong Choy, as well as the government officials responsible for the unlawful issue of the four “Letters of Support” - getting the government embroiled in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor