Cabinet as guilty as Ling, says Zaid

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has questioned how Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was able to mislead the government in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, saying that former Cabinet members cannot plead ignorance.

Dr Ling is the first high-profile person to be charged in the scandal that could see the port project’s costs balloon up to RM12.5 billion due to mismanagement. It is understood that the Attorney-General’s Chambers are looking to charge up to five others in the case.

“When I read the charges against Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, that he had misled the Cabinet about the price of the land from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd for the PKFZ project, I did not know whether I should cry or laugh.

“This is probably the first time in the world that a former minister — a person holding a high position in the government — has been charged as such. But in Malaysia, everything is possible,” the lawyer-turned-politician wrote in his blog yesterday

Dr Ling was charged with cheating over the scandal-hit PKFZ project. The charges, which concern inflated land valuations, were made under the Penal Code with the principle charge under Section 418 with the alternative charge from Section 417.

Punishment for offences under Section 417 carries a jail term of not more than five years, and not more than seven years under Section 418.

According to the charge sheet, Dr Ling is alleged to have deceived the Malaysian government between September 25 and November 6, 2002 into agreeing on the land purchase in Pulau Indah for the mega-distribution hub project in Port Klang according to the terms agreed to between Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and the Port Klang Authority.

Zaid also questioned how the PKFZ has become a public burden when it was supposed to be a self financing project.

“The project was approved under the administration of Tun (Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) in 2002 on the belief that it will bring big profit without using government money (self-financing) and does not require government spending. The scenario existing today is that the project has become a burden to the people at costs reaching RM12 billion,” he said.

The former law minister also asked if the PKFZ land should have been acquired at RM25 per square feet (psf).