Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 31st July 2009:
As there is a clear and present conflict-of-interest, Azmi should belatedly stand down and disqualify himself from conducting the PAC inquiry into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be guilty of gross incompetence if it should come to the conclusion that the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal is all due to the project being “managed by a group of incompetent people from day one” and nothing more.
This appears to be the present line of thinking of the PAC Chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid who told the media after the PAC meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by former Transport Minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy with his retinue of a lawyer and two aides, that “In general, the huge project was managed by a very incompetent group of people” from day one.
Could the ballooning of the PKFZ scandal from RM1.088 billion in 2002 when Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik was Transport Minister,quadrupling to RM4.63 billion in 2006 under Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy as Transport Minister, and now set to mushroom to become a RM12.5 billion scandal under Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat as Transport Minister all because of management by “a very incompetent group of people” from day one?
Was there no heinous criminality in cheating, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of public funds resulting in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ “mother of all scandals”, five times bigger than the biggest financial scandal which kicked off the 22-year premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir – the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal 25 years ago?
Is this the nation’s most “heinous crime without criminals” in 52 years since Merdeka?
Azmi said Chan had appeared before the PAC armed with legal views from local and Commonwealth legal experts.
I stand corrected but I understand that the opinion of a Queen’s Counsel from UK in support of Chan’s position was not tabled at the PAC meeting, in which case, how could it be appended as an official document to the PAC report on the PKFZ inquiry when the PAC report is submitted to Parliament?
What about the opinions of all the other local and Commonwealth legal experts? Have they been tabled officially at the PAC meeting so that they could be included as an appendix to the PAC report for study by MPs?
Azmi said the battery of local and Commonwealth legal experts had given opinions that Chan’s three Letters of Support to PKFZ turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB) to raise some RM4 billion of bonds were not government guarantees but mere support letters for the project.
Will the PAC seek opinion from a Queen’s Counsel from UK that Chan’s Letters of Support were in fact implicit government guarantees and which were so regarded by the bond market?
Azmi said that although the two former Transport Ministers, Kong Choy and Liong Sik who had appeared before the PAC, had denied that the four Letters of Support they issued were government guarantees, these were only the opinions of both of them.
The PAC is calling the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail to give his opinions on the two Ministers’ four Letters of Support at the next PAC hearing on August 12.
The PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal is taking on the character of a farce as Azmi as a Cabinet Minister in 2007 was not only privy but accepted the Attorney-General’s opinion that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for the RM4 billion bonds raised by KDSB in the bond market for PKFZ project, and Azmi was also party to the Cabinet’s subsequent decision to retrospectively approve the unlawful issue of the four Letters of Support by Liong Sik and Kong Choy and the subsequent Cabinet decision on a RM4.6 billion bail-out of PKFZ.
Azmi should vacate from the chair of PAC Chairman to testify at the PAC hearing why he and other Cabinet Ministers agreed with the Attorney-General’s opinion in 2007 that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for which the Cabinet had to give retrospective approval.
Other Cabinet Ministers in the 2007 decision for the RM4.6 bail-out of the PKFZ project should also be summoned to appear before the PAC inquiry to explain their support for the RM4.6 billion bailout of PKFZ.
There is a clear and present conflict-of-interest on Azmi’s role as PAC Chairman and former Minister when the Cabinet decided in 2007 on the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout – which was why I had earlier suggested he should disqualify himself from conducting the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal, allowing the PAC Deputy Chairman Dr. Tan Seng Giaw to take over the inquiry.
Although late, it is still the proper thing for Azmi to do as it is never too late for him to stand down and disqualify himself from chairing the rest of the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor