Ong slams business publication over PKFZ report

(Bernama) – Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat today criticised a report in a business publication which had linked him to a delay in the release of the audit findings on the accounts of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ).

The publication deliberately "portrayed me as the stumbling block through the release of such a report. Yes, you are entitled to your views — but if at all this is tantamount to libel, you have to bear the full brunt of the laws of the land," he told reporters here.

He said he had never been interviewed by the publication, and wondered how it could publish such a report without proper sources.

"I will refer the report and the reporting to my legal advisor and anything unfounded would be dealt with," he said.

In May last year, PKFZ appointed international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent overall audit on the accounts of the PKFZ project. The audit exercise followed a public outcry over a RM4.6 billion soft loan given by the government.

PKFZ, owned by Port Klang Authority (PKA), was conceptualised as a regional hub for export and transshipment of manufactured goods. It was to have cost RM1.85 billion.

The business publication reported that estimates showed that the total bill for the PKFZ could rise to RM8 billion. Ong said people could claim anything "but how reliable the source is, is questionable".

Ong said efforts had been taken by PKA to seek declassification of certain documents, in particular the letters or correspondence that would be included in the report, because it had to be done before any classified documents could go public.

"The PKFZ report is handled by the PKA, which commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a thorough investigation. Once they are ready, definitely PKA would be given the liberty to release the report without any intervention from the ministry," he said.

Ong, who had earlier opened the 33rd delegates conference of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma), said he would convey to the Barisan Nasional (BN) Supreme Council Kimma's intention to join the coalition.

In his speech earlier, Kimma president Syed Ibrahim Kader said the party had applied seven times to join the BN but its applications were rejected on the grounds of an absence of consensus among the component parties.