Media statement by Liew Chin Tong in Parliament House on Tuesday, 30th November 2010:
Chua's first task as PPC's chairman: merge PPC and PPSB
To merge Penang Port Commission (PPC) and Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) should be the first task of the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, the newly appointed Penang Port Commission Chairman. He must not be the chairman who oversees the giving away of the port to Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
I congratulate Dr Chua Soi Lek for his appointment as the chairman of the Penang Port Commission and Penang Port Commission (Teluk Ewa) effective November 15 as announced by the Prime Minister's Office yesterday, succeeding Penang MCA warlord Tan Cheng Liang.
This is the second appointment for Dr. Chua in weeks after his appointment as a Member of the National Economic Council after I raised the issue that the Council, which is in effect the secret economic cabinet where major decisions are made, has no non-UMNO party representation.
But this is the weirdest of all appointments in decades by the Malaysian government. A supposed political giant accepts an ikan bilis appointment usually reserved for Penang MCA warlords. Perhaps something very strange is brewing.
Penang Port Commission (PPC) was established on 1 January 1956 under the Penang Port Commission Act, 1955. PPC is a Statutory Body under the purview of the Ministry of Transport. As a Statutory body, PPC is responsible for the administration of Penang Port. The responsibilities carried out by PPC as set out in the Penang Port Commission Act, 1955 are to provide and maintain port and ferry service in Penang Port as well as upgrading the development and the use of the port.
However, since 1994, The operations of the port and ferry services at Penang Port was cannibalised and privatised to a licensed operator, i.e. Penang Port Sdn. Bhd. (PPSB) under the Ports (Privatisation) Act 1990. PPC continues to exist as a Port Authority and also undertakes other major roles, namely as a Regulatory Authority under the Ports (Privatisation) Act 1990, as a Port Resource Centre for the northern region and as the Administrator of the Free Commercial Zone (FCZ) under the Free Commercial Zone Act 1990 and Free Zone Regulations 1991.
In 1995, Parliament passed the amendments to the Penang Port Commission Act, 1955. These amendments enable PPCĄŻs power and jurisdiction to be extended to other ports. Effective 1 January 1999, PPC was appointed as the Port Authority and Regulatory Authority following the privatization of Teluk Ewa Jetty, Langkawi.
Penang Port Sdn. Bhd. chairmanship has been reserved for the Chairman of UMNO Tanjung Division since the 1994 cannibalisation.
As a supposed political giant, the first task of Dr. Chua as PPC Chairman must be to end the cannibalisation of the Port and to restore rationality in the operations of the Penang Port.
Or, is Dr. Chua installed as PPC Chairman to oversee the privatisation of the Penang Port?
Last week, Tony Pua, the DAP Member of Parliament of Petaling Jaya Utara urged the federal government to clarify the mounting speculations of a buyout of the Penang Port by Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. The speculations were reported by the Singapore's Business Time where Pua said that if that materializes, then it would be "Another direct affront to the government's many promises of transparency and public accountability as underlined under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's New Economic Model (NEM)."
Therefore, I urge the new chairman of Penang Port Commission, Dr Chua Soi Lek to oversee the merger of Penang Port Commission and Penang Port Sdn Bhd to ensure the efficient operation of the Port that serves the interest of the people, not private interest.
* Liew Chin Tong, MP for Bukit Bendera