2008 Budget Committee stage
debate on Transport Ministry should be stood down until Chan Kong Choy
returns from London next week or this is evidence of the Transport Minister
on-the-run to escape accountability for the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free
Zone bailout scandal
by Lim Kit Siang
I was surprised to read a
Bernama report last night that the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Chan
Kong Choy has left for London to attend the 25th International Maritime
Organization (IMO) Assembly and will not be back until later next week.
My immediate reaction is that the Transport Minister is on-the-run from
Parliament to escape accountability for the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free
Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal, as the committee stage debate on the
Transport Ministry for the 2008 Budget is scheduled for this Thursday or
latest by Monday – when Chan will still be in London.
This is most irresponsible, as Chan knows that the PKFZ scandal will
feature prominently in the debate on the Transport Ministry as for the
past three months of the parliamentary meeting, no satisfactory answer had
been given to the many issues and questions which I had raised repeatedly
about the PKFZ scandal.
In fact, last Monday in Parliament during the committee stage debate on
the Finance Ministry, I had posed the specific question as to why the
government was “on-the-run” on the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal.
I had protested that government ministers were kicking the issue of the
RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal from one Ministry to another, evading
accountability by refusing to give a direct answer to many pertinent
questions which I had posed – with the ball being kicked among the Prime
Minister’s Department, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of
Transport with no one wanting to give a proper answer.
I had even simplified the questions on the PKFZ scandal which cry out for
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 been 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
mid-year to give 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 Transport Minister, both Liong
Sik and Kong Choy, as well as the government officials responsible for the
unlawful issue of the four “Letters of Support”. Kong Choy had said that
he did not know that he had no power as Transport Minister to issue such
Letters of Support, Was this acceptable explanation for getting the
government embroiled in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz had said
that questions on the PKFZ scandal should rightly be answered by the
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Datuk Seri Dr. Hilmi
Yahya when pressed on the issue last Monday, asked that he be allowed to
answer by way of written reply. When asked when the written reply would be
given, he declined to give any firm date on the ground that a proper study
had to be done. When I persisted in asking whether an answer could be
forthcoming in a week’s time, as this was not a new issue and had been
raised for over two months, Hilmi said he would try.
More than a week had passed and I have not yet received any written reply
from Helmi, while Chan has run away to London on the pretext of attending
the International Maritime Organization meeting in London.
Chan should be reminded that while his international commitments are
important, they should not be allowed to overshadow his responsibilities
to Parliament and Malaysians as Transport Minister.
After all, if Chan is not Transport Minister, he would be nothing in the
International Martime Organization! This is why he must not forget his
roots by running away from his primary responsibilities to Parliament and
Malaysian taxpayers to evade answer and accountability for the biggest
financial scandal in the Abdullah premiership.
If Chan feels that it is very important that he should attend the
International Maritime Organization conference in London which clashes
with the parliamentary schedule for the Transport Ministry in the
committee stage debate on the 2008 Budget, he could easily ask for the
debate on the Transport Ministry to be changed to a later date when he is
back from the London Conference.
Chan must stand accused of using the International Martime Organization
conference in London as an excuse to run away from Parliament and escape
accountability for the PKFZ scandal in the 2008 Budget committee stage
debate on the Transport Ministry, especially as Chan’s role in the RM4.6
billion PKFZ bailout scandal is a major and central one.
I have given notice of a RM10 cut motion for the salary of Chan as
Transport Minister over his major role in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal –
and it will be the height of Ministerial irresponsibility and
parliamentary cowardice for Chan to run away to London when the Transport
Ministry comes up for debate on Thursday or Monday.
I have written a strong protest to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz, who is in charge of parliamentary affairs
for the Cabinet over the absence of Chan in the debate on the Transport
Ministry and to ask that the debate of the Transport Ministry should be
stood down until Chan has come back from London to “face the music” over
the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman