Ong: No RM10m loan, free plane charters from KDSB

Written by Sharon Tan, The Edge

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat vehemently denies taking a RM10 million loan from Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club (BNBBC) chairman and Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, dismissing the allegations as smear tactics and character assassination.

The transport minister said if he had benefited from Tiong, there would be more reason for him to protect the Bintulu MP in light of the latest revelations by the Port Klang Authority special task force on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco.

Ong’s response came hot on the heels of allegations by Tiong that he (Tiong) had pumped RM10 million into MCA for activities related to the party’s divisions after being requested to do so by Ong.

According to a report by online news portal Malaysiakini, the money was allegedly paid in cash over three meetings with the MCA president in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur. KDSB deputy chief executive officer Datuk Faisal Abdullah also alleged that Ong had used the company’s jet on five occasions and failed to make payment amounting to US$40,000 (RM141,200).

“If indeed I have received pecuniary and financial benefits for myself or the party, there will be more reasons for me to protect the interests of the givers, as opposed to proceeding to expose their misdeeds. The allegation by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing that I have taken the RM10 million ‘loan’ from him for use by the party’s divisions, is obviously made with several motives, including diverting attention away from the alleged irregularities exposed by the task force.

“It could also be meant to create suspicion among my party comrades that I have pocketed funds meant for the divisions. The fact that he indicated that it was a loan could mean that he wants the option of taking me to court to further embarrass me,” said Ong in his blog

He also said that he risked his personal and family safety as well as his credibility had he done so.

Ong said the period mentioned by Tiong was 2008 when he was the vice-president of MCA and the need for him to raise money for the party divisions was a non-starter.

“Later, as president, we already have access to party funds and allocations. I doubt any reasonable person would part with RM10 million based on such a story,” he added.

Ong was also glad that Faisal admitted that the jets were chartered by his ministry.

“This clearly indicates that I don’t accept privileges. If I have to, and am willing to pay for plane rides, I clearly do not accept bribes or favours.

“In any case, my office has yet to receive invoices for the services rendered. If the charter company had been more efficient, I am sure my office would have already made prompt payments. I am sure businesses do not issue invoices through the press,” said Ong, who would be seeking legal advice on the allegations.

He also said that the latest obstacles would not deter him from ensuring that the PKFZ issue was resolved in the best interest of the government and people.

This is the latest twist surrounding Ong and PKFZ. Just last month, Ong revealed that he had received death threats for releasing the PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services report on the PKFZ project whose cost  could potentially swell to RM12.4 billion.

Tiong had told Malaysiakini that Ong had asked him for support and as a new leader he (Ong) needed funds for activities.

“We are politicians, we need funds to sponsor our activities. I was supposed to return the money to some other people. But in order to help each other, I let Ong use the money first.

“He (Ong) said that he wanted to give the money to all MCA divisions. But I have no idea if he did so. This is up to MCA members to ask him.

“If he didn’t give the money to the MCA divisions, then he is lying to me, I want him to return the money,” said Tiong who is the BN MP for Bintulu and treasurer of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

Tiong, however, could not recall the dates when he supposedly gave the money to Ong but said that he had a friend who could be a witness. Tiong also claimed that Ong had promised to issue him a receipt but has yet to do so. He also denied that the money was a form of corruption and had anything to do with the PKFZ issue.

According to Malaysiakini, Faisal said the company did not charge Ong any charter fees for using the jet but that Ong should have at least paid for fuel and other expenses which amounted to US$40,000.

KDSB has since turned down Ong’s request to use the jet again.