AG: Letters of support for PKFZ tantamount to guarantee

by Giam Say Khoon, The Edge 

Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail today told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the four Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) letters of support issued by two former transport ministers were tantamount to letters of guarantee, said PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid. 

However, Azmi said there are some parties who still argued that the letters were not government guarantee, so only the court of law can now decide on the matter.
"Whether it is a guarantee or not, the money has gone. It is another question whether we can get back the money. So we have asked the AG to look into the areas where we can protect that portion and eventually, if it is not seen as a guarantee, how do we get back the money?" he said.
Azmi said it is up to the relevant parties or the Port Klang Authority (PKA) to decide whether the issue should be brought to the court for a decision.

Former transport ministers Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, who issued the letters, had testified before the committee last month that the letters were not government guarantee and had no financial implications.

Azmi said the committee found that Abdul Gani had provided correct and professional advice in this issue but some were not followed or implemented although the executive could choose to take the advice or not.

He said the committee had also asked about the propriety of having the same lawyer for the buyer and seller of the PKFZ land.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report had stated that Rashid Asari & Co, which had acted in the sale and purchase of part of the land between KPPLB and KDSB in 1995, had also acted as the legal adviser for PKA.
"This is an issue that we have to pay attention to and we may also summon the Bar Council to explain to us whether the same lawyer is allowed to represent both parties," he said.

Asked if the AG had recommended that payments to PKFZ turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) be halted temporarily, Azmi said Abdul Gani did not recommend so but it is reasonable for the PKA and PKFZ to consider doing so.

(The PKA had recently decided to defer scheduled payment of RM660 million to KDSB, but was later told by the Ministry of Finance to release the payment.)

On whether the PAC will also look into the special task force report which alleged irregularities in payment of between RM500 million and RM1 billion to KDSB, he said the PKA board was doing a good job and the committee would leave the investigation to the board as they would have access to all information.

He said the PAC has yet to request for a copy of the report as the report is still confidential to only the PKA board.

Azmi also disclosed that the committee had scheduled to summon KDSB in the next few weeks but it is up to the company to decide if its chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing should attend or not.

Abdul Gani, when met at parliament lobby after the inquiry, only told the Press that the committee had consulted everything about the PKFZ but refused to disclose what had been asked.

On the allegations mentioned in the special task force report, he said the AG's Chambers has started to investigate the matters.
The PAC will hear from two Transport Ministry's former secretaries-general tomorrow.