IT is appalling to read The Edge daily’s article that the Port Klang Free Zone scandal could balloon from RM4.6 billion to RM8 billion. The initial development cost, when mooted in 2002, was RM2.3 billion.
This development has implicated a string of Barisan Nasional politicians. The lead players were two former MCA presidents and transport ministers — Tun Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy and Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who is the majority shareholder of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and also the Bintulu lawmaker.
The supporting cast involves turnkey contractor, Kuala Dimensi chairperson and former ruling Umno treasurer Azim Zabidi, and several key leaders from Kapar Umno division who were actively involved in the land transaction and development project.
Tiong (Source: p216bintulu.com) The Port Klang Free Zone saga started with the sale of land by Kuala Dimensi to the Port Klang Authority for RM1.09 billion, or RM25 per square foot. The 999.5 acres of land is in Pulau Indah, Selangor. Kuala Dimensi, which is 70% owned by Tiong, had bought the land for only RM95 million or at RM3 per square foot.
The Port Klang Authority is a government agency under the Transport Ministry. The Finance Ministry had instructed the Transport Ministry to acquire the land by using the Land Acquisition Act at RM10 per square foot.
Not only did Kuala Dimensi make a huge profit with the sale of land, but they were also appointed by the Port Klang Authority to develop the Port Klang Free Zone.
Kuala Dimensi, meanwhile, appointed Wijaya Baru Global Bhd to be the main sub-contractor. Tiong is a shareholder and director of Wijaya Baru, which in turn controls Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd.
This means that Tiong made a huge profit — he sold the land to the Port Klang Authority well above the recommended price, and also benefited from being given the development and management rights as well as the right to be the main sub-contractor.
The explicit political connections become clearer when you consider that the project was first conceived under Ling and carried through by his successor Chan.
When the development cost over-ran to RM3 billion, the government decided to give a soft loan totalling RM4.6 billion to Port Klang Free Zone in 2007. This led to an overwhelming frustration among the public over the deviously planned bailout plan for the political cronies.
RM4.6 billion amounts to 7% of the RM67 billion stimulus packages unveiled by the Finance Minister and current Prime Minister Najib Razak. This amount could be used to set up a retrenchment fund and a SME fund to help retrenched workers and small- and medium-industry players who are facing challenges of survival in the midst of the global economic crisis.
In conjunction with World Press Freedom day, I urge Najib and Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat to disclose the completed audit report which was initiated to investigate the financial mess brought about by the port authority.
Najib and Ong must make the audit public without any further delay to uphold peoples’ right to information. This scandal would not have arisen if a freedom of information act was available in the country. Such an act would furthermore create and assure investor confidence.
I also call upon the Selangor State Assembly’s Select Committee for Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) to initiate a probe into former Selangor state government’s role in the land deal.
According to news reports, the Selangor state government in 2001 rejected the application to acquire the land (by using the Land Acquisition Act) because of an existing development order issued to Kuala Dimensi in 1997. The purchase agreement between Kuala Dimensi and the Port Klang Authority was done in 2002.
This means that the Selangor state government was objecting to a suggestion that could save RM1.72 billon of taxpayers’ money. This is scandalous.
Member of Parliament, Klang