Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 6th January 2012:
Is Dato' Seri Kong Cho Ha a shining example of the Prime Minister's "people first, performance now" Minister?
In response to my press conference on 4th January seeking the Minister of Transport, Dato' Seri Kong Cho Ha to break his "elegant silence" and make the top management of Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd (MAHB) accountable for the KLIA2 scandal.
The cost of the new "low cost terminal" KLIA2 had increased drastically from the originally estimated RM1.7 billion in 2007 to RM3.9 billion last year. The underlying reason was the shift of the airport from the originally proposed northern site (KLIA North) to the current western site (KLIA West) which is under construction. The shift of the site has caused the cost of construction to bloat because KLIA West was already identified as unsuitable for the construction of an airport due to it being a peat swamp. This is increased the cost by at least RM1.2 billion.
In addition, the shift to KLIA West has resulted in the need for a 3rd runway costing RM270 million as well as a 2nd control tower costing an estimated RM300 million, which would not have been required had the new low-cost terminal be built in KLIA North.
However despite knowing full well that the KLIA West is unsuitable for airport construction and will incur substantially higher cost, MAHB has intentionally chosen not to disclose this crucial information to the relevant Government officials involved.
Instead of taking the necessary action to get to the bottom of the scandal which involves taxpayers' money, Dato' Seri Kong has accused me of "deliberately politicising the issue". On top of that, he had challenged me to report the issue to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) if I'm unhappy about the scandal.
He had further added that "I don't have much to answer because the decision was not made by MOT'.
I am completely appalled by the Minister's lackadaisical reply to billions of ringgit of rakyat's money overspent by a Government-Linked Company regulated by his Ministry. While Dato' Seri Kong need not worry that I do not make a request for the PAC to look into the scandal, at the end of the day, it has to be the Ministry of Transport who is answerable and to take the necessary actions.
The Minister also cannot disclaim responsibility because the Ministry of Transport is fully represented in the Board of Directors of MAHB by none other than its Secretary-General Dato' Long See Wool. He is also joined by Dyg Sadiah binti Abg Bohan, who is the private secretary to the 2nd Finance Minister.
Their roles are undoubtedly to check, monitor and regulate the decisions of MAHB on behalf of their respective Ministries. The Ministry of Transport, as the regulating agency for the airports and aviation industry must surely be competent enough to know why MAHB was allowed to shift the airport from KLIA North to KLIA West, resulting in massive cost overruns.
While Dato' Seri Kong Cho Ha was not the Minister of Transport when the decisions were made in 2008, he must certainly take responsibility and remedial actions for the scandal which is exploding under his watch. His arrogance and failure to even investigate or demand answers for the actions of MAHB would otherwise make him the shining example of why the Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Abdul Razak's promise of "people first, performance now" is nothing but rhetoric to hoodwink ordinary Malaysians.
* Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara