(The Sun Daily) - he prosecution had failed to provide evidence that former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik orchestrated a highly coordinated conspiracy to cheat the Cabinet in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, the High Court today heard.
"If there was indeed any intention by the accused to cheat the then Prime Minister, the cabinet and the government, he would have had to conspire and implement a high degree of coordination with senior officers of the Transport Ministry, Port Klang Authority (PKA), the Finance Ministry and land owners Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB)," Ling's lead counsel Wong Kian Kheong said in the defence's opening remarks.
In the first hearing of the defence stage of Ling's trial for cheating, Wong told Judge Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi that the prosecution had failed to submit even an iota of such evidence.
"Ling also did not have any intention to deceive the Cabinet because at all material times, he had directed officers in his ministry and in PKA to adhere to valuation by the Land Valuation Department (JPPH) with regard to procurement of land, and his two letters to then-Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad were prepared by ministry officers," said Wong.
"He did not at any time instruct, direct, nor request officers to conceal, misrepresent or mislead any fact in the preparations of (documents)," he added.
Wong said no one informed Ling at any time that any letters or memorandum was flawed, or inaccurate.
Ling is charged under Section 417 and 418 of the Penal Code for deceiving the cabinet by withholding details of the terms and conditions agreed between KDSB and PKA.
Ling is accused of failing to reveal facts regarding an interest of 7.5% per year, in addition to the cost of the land which was priced at RM25 psf.
He faces a maximum sentence of seven and five years imprisonment respectively or fine or both upon conviction.
However, Wong said the defence would prove that the valuation by JPPH was complied with in the payment structure, but ministry officers were highly confused by the technical nature of the financing scheme needed to purchase of the 1,000-acre land in Pulau Indah.
Ling, who also took the stand for the first time since the trial began August last year, seemed relaxed as he amused the courtroom with his answers during examination-in-chief by Wong.
When asked on the conception of the PKFZ project, Ling launched into a long explanation of the importance of ports for the economy, and how he witnessed the inefficiencies of some ports around the world.
"(The ship arrived) in Bangladesh but you have to wait for one week for the ship to be unloaded, and another week for it to be loaded because everything is done manually... They also have 57 strikes a year," he said, drawing laughter from the courtroom.
Despite repeated attempts by Ahmadi and Wong to ask him to answer the question, Ling continued to speak about how he went overseas to the Dubai port and saw how well-managed and advanced the Jebel Ali Free Zone there was.
Ling explained that he wanted to bring the same concept to Port Klang.
"Mahathir was kept fully involved in everything I did, he was so kind, he knew I was onto something good.
"After I informed him (Mahathir) about this, the cabinet started taking interest and once Dr Mahathir is interested, the whole cabinet must also be interested," he said to laughter from the packed courtroom.
Ling, who dressed in a dark suit, red tie and a white pink-striped shirt, was accompanied by his family members and numerous supporters.
He was sworn in without his MyKad as he had forgotten to bring it with him to court. Ahmadi however let it pass and requested that Ling present it to court later today.