KUALA LUMPUR, 11 June 2009: DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang will move a motion to debate the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal when parliament resumes sitting on Monday, 15 June 2009.
Lim at the forum “This scandal of all scandals is an utter disgrace,” Lim said in a DAP forum titled The RM12.5 billion PKFZ Scandal: Will Heads Roll? at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night.
Lim also cast doubt on the efficacy of Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat‘s methods of dealing with the problem.
On 10 June, Ong announced that a special task force had been formed to conduct a legal review and explore financial restructuring of the controversial PKFZ project. Two separate committees will also look into areas of corporate governance and business opportunities.
The PKFZ, an integrated 1,000-acre zone offering facilities for international cargo distribution, was approved by cabinet in 1999. In 2001, it was estimated to cost RM1.9 billion.
However, a PricewaterhouseCoopers audit report highlighted procedural improprieties which led to the cost of the PKFZ project ballooning to RM7.5 billion.
“These moves are aimed at avoiding parliamentary responsibility. Ong can just tell parliament that he has formed this task force, and we will have to wait months for an answer,” Lim said.
Lim, who is also DAP adviser, called for the formation of a royal commission to look into the scandal.
“(Those involved) must give a full accounting of their actions in this issue,” Lim said. He singled out Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, and Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting as former transport ministers during the execution of the PKFZ project.
“Shut it down”
Teh Chi Chang, economic adviser to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, noted that the PKFZ’s cost could rise to RM12.5 billion in total. This was because the Port Klang Authority (PKA) would not be able to repay their finance ministry soft loan on schedule.
He revealed that even after using the PKA’s “optimistic” forecasts, the project would only be cash-flow positive in 2051.
Teh suggested that the government explore the option of shutting down the PKFZ project so that it could cut losses.
“We’ve already lost RM7.5 billion. Aren’t there better uses for RM8.5 billion?” Teh said.
Teh (right) and DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua
“To put it another way, RM8.5 billion can be used to fund full scholarships for 30,000 students for overseas degrees, or distribute RM850 cash for every adult Malaysian,” Teh said.
DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua said that shutting down the PKFZ project should be seriously considered.
“If (Ong) can show us how (PKFZ) can still make returns by persisting, he should do so,” Pua said.
Pua cast doubts on PKFZ’s future profitability, arguing that the current economic climate, and domestic or regional competition would hamper the project’s success.