Don’t forget the real issue

By Wong Chun Wai (The Star)

Twists and turns in the PKFZ saga should not distract us from pursuing transparency and accountability.

LET’S put the perspective right. The Port Klang Free Trade Zone controversy is about a possible fraud including alleged unsubstantiated claims which could run up to RM1.5bil.

The issue has, however, been sidetracked with new twists and new allegations, which has no relevance to the PKFZ issue.

It has made for an interesting reading. After all, it’s not every day that the president of MCA is accused of taking RM10mil, regardless of whether it was a loan or a party donation.

Certainly, it’s also extraordinary when the MCA boss slaps a RM500mil suit against a businessman-politician, who is also head of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club.

Malaysians now wait to see the facts in the defence to be filed by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

Then there is the leadership tussle between Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and his ex-deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who has been recommended to be sacked by the disciplinary board.

A political battle seems to be shaping up with terms like “extraordinary meeting, delegates and motions” now becoming the conversations of political news junkies.

But hold it. What about the PKFZ issue. Surely, a failed project which has cost Malaysians a colossal sum of money cannot just be forgotten if we are serious about pursuing transparency and accountability.

It has nothing to do with politics and it should not be turned into a political issue as a distraction.

Last week, it was reassuring to have the Prime Minister to put on record that he was committed to righting the wrongs in the PKFZ.

In short, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has shot down any perception that Ong was on a one man crusade and did not enjoy the backing of the PM as his nemesis wanted to portray.

Referring to a comment by writer K. Baradan, the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said: “The claims made by the writer are erroneous and baseless as the Government is committed in the investigations into the PKFZ issue.

“This was clearly pointed out by Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat in his comments which were published in the Sunday Star which quoted him as saying that Najib was supportive of Ong’s efforts into the PKFZ issue.

“Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had said that the probe would not come this far if the Prime Minister and himself had tolerated or believed in cover-ups,” the statement from Najib’s office read.

The statement pointed out that relevant authorities like the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Public Accounts Committee were already conducting investigations into the alleged wrongdoing.

The message was clear – the Government is very much committed towards the principle of transparency and accountability.

Najib’s apparent silence over the issue had been mistaken, sometimes deliberately, as a lack of support but the Prime Minister has held fast to the belief that the investigations were already on-going and he should allow the authorities to do so without him having to make any sort of statements.

Najib has been consistently saying that fighting corruption is right on top of his list of priority.

In fact, fighting corruption, along with reducing street crimes, are the top two items in Najib’s Key Result Areas in his Key Performance Index targets for his own administration.

Najib has openly pledged that his administration stands for transparency and accountability and fair service to everyone and not just for a few.

In his blog (, the Prime Minister when discussing the eight values of his 1Malaysia concept stressed that being honest was one of the best ways to get the trust and confidence of the people.

“Tell them the truth. If you’ve done well, tell them the policies are right. If the policies are not working, then you should have the courage to tell them that look, we’ve made mistakes but we intend to do better, we intend to correct these mistakes. And I think the rakyat would appreciate that.

“You must tell the truth and trust the people. That the people are intelligent, that the people will appreciate honesty and truthfulness and engage and communicate with the rakyat.”

Without doubt, Malaysians certainly want to see such values restored in Malaysia.

The days of dubious deals being covered up would no longer be accepted in the New Malaysia, where the demands of politics have changed.

When things are wrong, they expect it to be fixed right. If the Government has promised a full investigation on the PKFZ, they expect to see the findings and culprits charged.

The PKFZ issue is not about the fate of politicians but of larger issues – transparency, accountability and credibility. Certainly, the Prime Minister is also aware that Malaysians are watching.