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Freeze bank accounts of those in PKFZ fiasco

Corrected on 31 May 2009 at 10am

KLANG, 29 May 2009: The government should freeze the bank accounts of everyone implicated in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) controversy, while those who are also holding government positions should be suspended pending the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations into the scandal.

DAP Klang member of parliament (MP) Charles Santiago, who made the call today, urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to immediately take these necessary actions against politicians, former and current Port Klang Authority (PKA) officials, and any other figures embroiled in the fiasco.

Charles Santiago quote

“We welcome the release of the PKFZ report…However, it is clear that laws have been broken, there were conflict of interests, and politicians were involved in this fiasco,” said Santiago in a press conference today.

The four politicians named in the report are Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung, Sementa assemblyperson Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil, Backbenchers Club president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and Federal Territory Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Azim Zabidi.

Santiago also took domestic regulators particularly the MACC, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and Attorney-General’s Chambers to task for the many failures and breach of regulations brought to light by the report.

He pointed out that Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat should not “gloat” over the fact that the long delayed PKFZ report would be submitted to the MACC and PAC.

“This (report) is nothing new. MACC’s predecessor, the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) had interviewed PKFZ officials and carted documents away from PKA under (then PKA general manager) OC Phang back in 2007. They already have this information then, what were they doing all these while?” Santiago said.

He added that PAC’s probe into PKFZ also ended abruptly with the exit of its former chairperson Datuk Sharir Abdul Samad.

“Why did the investigations end with his exit? Is the PAC truly serving as a watchdog of the public accounts or merely posturing as one?” he questioned..

He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers should have been instrumental in revealing the ballooning costs of the PKFZ and the financial viability of PKA to undertake the project in its early stages.

“Could the Chambers not have done more? How far did [it] go to ensure that legal procedures, provisions, practices and standards were adhered to? Were there no steps taken once it was determined that [these were] by-passed by PKA officials?” said Santiago.

In addition, he took to task the Ministry of Finance, Bar Council and Bursa Malaysia for not playing an active role in probing the possible breach of regulations in the project.

Charles Santiago quote

“Why didn’t they do something? Were they intimidated? Did politician(s) exert pressure on them? Or were they working together with the politicians?”

Santiago pointed out the failure of these regulators would affect the country’s ability to attract foreign investments: “Would foreign investors come if they can’t trust our regulators?”

He also questioned how the government plans to foot the project costs in the current economic crisis. (Corrected) The PKFZ costs is estimated to balloon to over RM12 billion by 2051.

Lastly, he urged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to stand by their report and questioned their rationale for not allowing the public to arrive at any conclusion from the report. (PwC had agreed to make the report public on three conditions, one of which is “the reader is not authorised to use or rely on the report to arrive at any conclusion”.)

“What is the point of the report if you can’t arrive at any conclusion from it?” asked Santiago.

Be accountable

Meanwhile, MCA urged all government departments to be accountable and more stringent in their operations, management and approvals given.

MCA Information and Communication Bureau chairperson Lee Wei Kiat said the PKFZ controversy is a wake-up call to Malaysians on upholding integrity, transparency and accountability, particularly since enormous amounts from taxpayers’ funds were involved.

“Any suspicions of questionable practices should be reported, and thoroughly investigated without fear or favour even if it involves high-ranking senior government officials, well-known corporate figures and even politicians,” said Lee in a statement today.

The 405-hectare PKFZ transhipment hub, which has warehouses, office blocks and a four-star hotel, has been dogged by controversy and allegations of mismanagement over its ballooning development costs. Favicon

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4 Responses to “Freeze bank accounts of those in PKFZ fiasco”

  1. Sonia says:

    Isn’t it RM12 billion, not RM12 million?

  2. kuntakintae says:

    MCA information and communication bureau chairperson Lee Wei Kiat said the PKFZ controversy is a wake-up call to Malaysians ….

    Remember the Bank Bumi scandal (not once but twice), and the Perwaja scandal; everything was swept under the carpet; no one was accountable. We, the people, foot the bill; you politicians grow fatter by the day with this robbery and silence everyone with ISA, Sedition Act, etc.

    So Mr Lee, stop preaching about waking up. You wake up and show your integrity instead of rewinding the same verses, scandal after scandal.

  3. Thuraisingam says:

    As I have written earlier, the investigating authorities in the PKFZ fiaco should leave aside supplementary issues like mismanagement, variation order, lack of guidelines, cabinet oversight and breach of contract issues but they should go after the people who siphoned off tax payers money amounting to billions of ringgit.

    Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when approached by labour unions like Cuepacs for a pay raise for civil servants, would retort that if you want a pay raise, go ask the kampung people. If they agree, I will agree to a pay raise, [he said]. After paying out some money to civil servants, he [said that if] the same money was spent on the country, the people could get a few hospitals, hundrends of clinics, roads and highways.

    Now all this PKFZ fiasco started during the reign of Tun Dr Mahathir. I am suprised how such a big hole in the government’s coffers missed his eye.

    The present government should firstly go after all the govenment servants involved in dereliction of their duty, the politicians and political parties who mooted this idea of a PKFZ, Kuala Dimensi who sold a chunk of swampy land for a whopping billion ringgit, and the bumiputera contractor who absconded with the contract money. We need to bring this people to book, not to seek vengeance but to recover the money that belongs to the “rakyat” especially during these trying times.

    Remember that in the remote corners of our country, there are still mothers lamenting the state of the economy so much so some can ill afford to buy milk for their newborn babies while those involved in the PKFZ fiasco enjoy life.

  4. Hi Sonia,

    Thanks for pointing that out. Will correct it.

    Jacqueline Ann Surin
    The Nut Graph

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