Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 30th July 2009:
Could the PKFZ project become a RM12.5 billion “mother of all scandals” if the three Transport Ministers and four PKA Chairmen – all from MCA – had not been equally incompetent and negligent as the PKA managers from day one?
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman blamed the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal on “a group of incompetent people” from day one. (NST)
The ad hoc committee on corporate governance probing the PKFZ fiasco, headed by Transparency International chairman Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, denounced the PKA Board members for “gross negligence” in failing to discharge their fiduciary duties diligently, resulting in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
Both Azmi and Low are only half right. Could the PKFZ project become a RM12.5 billion “mother of all scandals” if the three Transport Ministers (Ling Liong Sik, Chan Kong Choy, Ong Tee Keat) and four PKA Chairmen (Ting Chew Peh, Yap Pian Hon, Chor Chee Heung and Lee Hwa Beng) – all from MCA – had not been equally incompetent and negligent as the PKA managers “from day one”?
Yesterday, the second Transport Minister mired in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal, Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy appeared before the PAC in its inquiry into the PKFZ scandal, ensconced by a lawyer and two aides as well as lugging a box of relevant documents, giving the impression as if he is appeared as an accused in a public inquiry.
Chan created PAC history in 52 years in being the first to appear with counsel before a PAC hearing. Why was this necessary and why did the PAC Chairman allow Chan to appear with counsel? This is indeed most extraordinary and even self-incriminating.
Even more extraordinary was that Chan produced an opinion from a Queen’s Counsel in the UK that the three Letters of Support which he had signed in support of PKFZ were not letters of guarantee.
How much did it cost Chan to get the opinion of a Queen’s Counsel for him to go to the PAC with it to back up his argument? Easily over 10,000 sterling pounds i.e. RM60,000 to RM100,000.
Why didn’t Chan get a Queen’s Counsel opinion when he was the Transport Minister in 2007 to convince the Cabinet that his three Letters of Support were not government “Letters of Guarantee” for the RM4 billion bonds raised by the PKFZ turnkey developer, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd. (KDSB) as Malaysian taxpayers would have been spared being victims of the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal?
In 2007, the Cabinet was advised by the Attorney-General and Treasury that the four Letters of Support to KDSB to raise RM4 billion bonds were implicit government guarantees to the bond market.
As a result, the Cabinet gave retrospective approval for the four unlawful and unauthorized Letters of Support, one issued by Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik in May 2003 and three by Chan, creating the RM4.6 billion liability for the government in the bailout of PKFZ which is now set to become a RM12.5 billion scandal.
What is most shocking is that Chan did not formally table the opinion of the Queen’s Counsel to the PAC but only referred to it orally. This is most improper and irregular and Chan should be recalled to formally table the opinion of the Queen’s Counsel, so that it becomes part of the documentation of the PAC report in its inquiry into the PKFZ when submitted to Parliament.
As reported in the New Straits Times, Azmi said the PAC is expected to table its findings on the PKFZ scandal in the Dewan Rakyat by October when the House resumed its sitting. It will also prepare a report for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to revisit the project and look into certain areas which were not touched by the commission in its earlier investigation.
Azmi has got his parliamentary responsibilities as PAC Chairman all wrong. His duty as PAC Chairman is to report to Parliament and not to MACC or even the government. His job is to ensure that the PAC report and recommendations on the PKFZ scandal is first tabled in Parliament and not to submit any report to the MACC or elsewhere.
It is then for Parliament to decide whether to accept the PAC findings and recommendations, including whether the PAC report should be forwarded to MACC for necessary action, or whether to reject the PAC report because it is unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
In the latter circumstances, Parliament should invoke its full powers to hold an inquiry of the full House into the PKFZ scandal, should it arrive at the conclusion that the PAC report falls far short of parliamentary standards and expectations.
In which case, all the witnesses who had appeared before the PAC, including the current and previous Transport Ministers, Tee Keat, Kong Choy and Liong Sik can be recalled.
Azmi should not forget that PAC is delegated by Parliament to inquire into the PKFZ scandal and Parliament must decide whether to accept its findings and recommendations before further follow-up action is taken on the PAC report.
This point must be emphasized especially in a case of such great public interest and controversy like the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.
As Parliament is reconvening on Oct. 19, and two weeks notice is required for a motion to accept or reject the PAC report on the PKFZ inquiry, Azmi should ensure that the PAC report on the PKFZ is circulated to MPs by end of September to allow MPs time to study it and decide whether a special motion on the PAC report on the PKFZ scandal should be moved – although formally, the PAC report would only be tabled in Parliament on Oct. 19 itself.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor