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Chan Kong Choy has confirmed that he is a Minister-on-the-run from his sheer inability to answer five simplified questions on the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal in Parliament yesterday

Media Conference (2)          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Wednesday): MCA Deputy President and Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy has confirmed that he is a Minister-on-the-run from his sheer inability to answer five simplified questions on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal in Parliament yesterday.

When moving a RM10 salary-cut motion for the Transport Minister yesterday, I tried to make things easy for Chan by reducing the public furor over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal into five simplified questions, 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 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, 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?

After each question, I specifically asked Chan to give a “yes or not” answer – to deny if the facts I had mentioned were untrue, and to explain and justify what he and the government had done if what I had said was undisputed and true.

In his reply, Chan completely ignored the five simplified questions on the core issues of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, as well as other questions which I had posed, including:

How Chan could claim that he did not know that as Transport Minister he did not have the powers to issue Letters of Support which were tantamount to government guarantees in the issue of RM4 billion bonds by Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd, as only the Finance Minister had such powers and also after getting prior approval by the Cabinet. How can Chan claim ignorance of this important financial principle when Chan had been Deputy Finance Minister for close to four years from Dec. 1999 to June 2003? Did Chan completely waste his close to four years as Deputy Finance Minister and learnt nothing?

Why Chan did not seek the advice of the Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Transport on whether he had the authority and powers to sign the Letters of Support but relied instead on advisers from outside the Ministry?

Why for more than three years from May 2003 to December 2006, the Finance Ministry was in the dark and completely unaware that four unauthorized Letters of Support involving RM4 billion bonds had been issued by the Transport Minister as it was only in December 2006 that the Treasury was informed by the lead arranger for the bonds that such Letters of Support had been issued by the Transport Minister and that they constituted government guarantees for the bond issues? Doesn’t this shocking evidence of a shambolic government, with the right hand not know what the left hand is doing?

Chan spent all his time in his reply yesterday claiming that he was not running away from Parliament by going to London to attend the International Maritime Organization (IMO) assembly, explaining how important it was for Malaysia.

I have no objections to Chan attending the IMO Assembly in London, but it cannot be used as an excuse for him to run away from his responsibility to be in Parliament to account for the biggest financial scandal in the Abdullah premiership – the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal - which comes directly under his portfolio.

It was because I had publicly protested that Chan would not be present in Parliament to face my censure motion against him in the form of the RM10 salary cut motion over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal if the 2008 Budget committee stage debate on his Ministry had come up as originally scheduled last Thursday that the debate on the Transport Ministry was postponed till yesterday.

However, although Chan was shamed into making his personal appearance in Parliament during the RM10 salary cut of his Minister’s pay by postponing the debate until his return from London, he remained a Minister-on-the run in his refusal to give any answer to the five simplified questions or other issues relating to the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal.

As I said in Parliament yesterday, when Chan refused to give way for any clarification during his reply, with Chan in Parliament back from London, he is not on-the-run physically, but he continues to be on-the-run intellectually on the PKFZ scandal, continuing his prevarication and evasion of the many pertinent issues concerned.

This is mot shameful parliamentary performance for a Minister who is also No. 2 of MCA.


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

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