Task Force did well, now recover the money

Honeymah Dylyani, Malaysian Mirror

There was all-round support for the work of the Task Force probing the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco. Now, the task ahead is to recover the money – freeze the accounts of the culprits if necessary.

The Port Klang Authority (PKA) board of directors has decided to commence legal action against Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) and the other parties involved.

They also directed PKA chairman Lee Hwa Beng to lodge a police report over the matter which he did this morning.

The allegations against KDSB were contained in a statement issued by Lee after the board meeting.

Full backing

However, it was learnt that what was revealed yesterday was only the “tip of the iceberg and many more revelations of wrongdoings are expected in the days ahead”.

tiong-king-sing.pngDAP parliamentarian Tony Pua said he supported the move by the Task Force to commence legal proceedings to recover the estimated RM1 billion from KDSB which is owned by Sarawak tycoon as well as Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club (BBC) chairman Tiong King Sing (left).

“However, actions must not only be taken against KDSB but also all directors, management and officers involved in PKFZ and PKA for the size and scale of this swindle could only have been pulled off with the complicity of insiders, the “close one eye” syndrome of some, and criminal negligence by others,” Pua penned in his blog today.

“We will give full backing to the special task force, PKA and Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat to take all necessary actions against the responsible parties.

“We also call upon Tiong King Sing to resign as the BN BBC chairman in order to protect the integrity of the Parliament until the above very serious allegations are dealt with. The BN BBC will have no credibility whatsoever, if led by one embroiled with a controversy involving billions of the rakyat's money,” Pua said.

The DAP legislator also urged Tee Keat to table the task force report to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee when it sits to discuss the PKFZ scandal tomorrow.

pkfz.pngCommenting on the issue, Asean Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) centre of policy studies chairman Ramon Navaratnam said the special task force investigating the legal and financial aspects of the PKFZ issue has fulfilled the public’s and the government’s expectation with its findings.

“It is good to see the truth being told. It is now logical to take legal action against those involved in the controversy,” he said.

In July, Ramon had also expressed support for the PKA’s move to defer its payment to KDSB pending the conclusion of its investigation.

Must be totally transparent

For Gerakan, the party wants the government to recover the monies that are not legally due to the parties involved in the PKFZ fiasco and to introduce a mechanism to prevent a recurrence.

"The government must also be totally transparent and reveal everything that needs to be revealed over the PKFZ project," party vice-president Mah Siew Keong said in a statement today.

"Hundreds of millions of ringgit have been mentioned in the whole fiasco. They are not government money or PKA money, they are taxpayers' money that must be accounted for," he said.

Mah said the government must be firm as Malaysians and the whole world would want to see how it handled the issue.

Steps should be taken to avoid a similar fiasco in government institutions.

"We need transparency and a good system to see that there is no abuse of power or misuse of public funds by any quarters holding power," he added.

azmi khalid.jpgMeanwhile, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said he had written an open letter to PAC Chairman Azmi Khalid (right) that he should avoid conflict-of-interest as a former Cabinet minister in 2007 and disqualify himself from conducting the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal

“PAC has summoned the Attorney-General Gani Patail to appear before its PKFZ inquiry tomorrow to give his opinion on the legality or otherwise of the four Letters of Support which had plunged the country into the RM12.5 billion scandal.

Azmi, vacate PAC chair

“Wouldn’t the PAC inquiry tomorrow take on the character of a farce and charade with you sitting as PAC chairman asking for the legal opinion of the AG, when in 2007 you had sat in the Cabinet and received and accepted the very same legal opinion of the Attorney-General that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for the RM4 billion bonds raised by KDSB in the bond market for PKFZ project – and that they were illegally issued by Ling and Chan and which was why the Cabinet had to give retrospective approval for the Four Letters of Support?” Lim asked.

The DAP veteran told Azmi that he should vacate from the chair of PAC chairman in the PKFZ inquiry to testify why you and other Cabinet ministers agreed with the Attorney-General’s opinion in 2007 that the four Letters of Support were implicit government guarantees for which the Cabinet had to give retrospective approval.

“Although too late to step down as chairman of the PAC inquiry, it is still the proper thing for you to do as it is never too late to do what is right, i.e. to stand down and disqualify yourself from chairing the rest of the PAC inquiry into the PKFZ scandal,” Lim added.

Another important step which the authorities concerned should undertake is the suggestion by the Bar Council in May to freeze the bank accounts of all persons implicated in the fiasco – and those in government positions should be immediately suspended.

This may include – but should not be confined to – MCA and Umno figures, members of parliament and Selangor executive council, former or current PKA and PKFZ officials, developers, lawyers and consultants, as well as the various shareholders and directors.

Its president Ragunath Kesavan also queried then whether the Bar Council could not have played a role in probing the possible breach of legal ethics – such as the element of conflict of interest – by lawyers involved in the PKFZ project?

However, the Bar has yet to officially comment on the task force’s findings which were revealed yesterday.