PKA board’s govt reps ‘swallowed everything’, says PAC chief

Written by Sharon Tan, The Edge    

The government officers on board the Port Klang Authority (PKA) did not question in detail the progress of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project and “swallowed” whatever that was given to them, said Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the PAC meeting where nine officers from the ministries of transport and finance, and the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) were called to testify yesterday, Azmi said that the appointees placed too much trust in the PKFZ management.

“We found that they (former board members representing the government) had absorbed whatever information provided by the board chairman who got the information from the PKFZ board. Many things were not questioned in an in-depth way,” he said in parliament house yesterday.

Asked if the PKA board of directors “swallowed everything” that was told to them, he said: “Whatever, yes. At PKA level, that is what they did. The GM of PKA is also CEO of PKFZ. By right, information should be forwarded by the CEO.”

For the record, the general manager for PKA and CEO of PKFZ was Datin Paduka OC Phang, a central figure in the construction of the RM4.6 billion transhipment hub. The cost of the loss-making project is now estimated to be RM8 billion and could rise to as much as RM12.5 billion.

Asked if Phang had failed to give the PKA board the actual picture of the situation, Azmi said: “We do not know. This is the picture that we get. But she may have some better information for us.”

The nine officers represented the respective ministries on the PKA board at one time or another between 2001 and 2007.

The nine are Datuk Zakaria Bahari, D Chandrasekaran, Mohd Ismail, Datuk Abdul Rahim Mokti, V Ravindran, Mohd Zainuddin Ahmad Rashidi, Zubir Abdul Aziz, Nor Rizan Mohd Thani and Mohamad Nor Taib.

Azmi stressed that the officials were not being investigated but the PAC wanted to know how information in relation to the PKFZ project was communicated to the PKA board.

“Whether certain decisions were made to the full knowledge of the PKA board… It is obvious that many decisions were made without their full knowledge,” he said.

“There is too much trust in the management of the PKFZ. The conclusion is that there is too much trust,” he added.

However, Azmi said the officials’ tenure on the board was only for a limited time before they were transferred.

“Some were there for a year while others were slightly longer. So they might not have understood the full background and some did not even attend all board meetings, so they may not have known what they were endorsing.

“We are still unable to conclude as we are still piecing the jigsaw,” said Azmi, who also confirmed that PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng would appear before PAC today.

He said the PAC wanted information from PKA as it did not have access to a lot of information. Azmi also said PKFZ turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd’s officials would be heard next week.