Dr M will testify in Dr Ling’s case if called

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 – Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that he will testify in Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik’s Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) cheating trial if the court subpoenas him.

He said that whoever is called by the court is required to testify. Yesterday Dr Mahathir stressed that Dr Ling is innocent until proven guilty.

Dr Ling, 66, is charged with cheating the government by misleading the Cabinet helmed by Dr Mahathir on the land acquisition for the PKFZ project in Klang.

The PKFZ project was mooted during his term as transport minister and the cost of the project, initially estimated at less than RM2 billion, more than doubled to RM4.6 billion by 2007.

The total bill for the project is expected to swell to as much as RM12.5 billion due to interest costs from deferred payments, if the trans-shipment hub fails to perform.

He faces up to seven years in jail and a fine under the Penal Code.

The friendship between the two doctors dates back to the 1980s when Dr Ling helped hold the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) together as the MCA president while Dr Mahathir struggled to unite the splintered Umno.

Both retired from Cabinet the same year – Dr Ling in May 2003, and Dr Mahathir five months later.

Last year, The Malaysian Insider reported that Dr Ling had told the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) probing the scandal-ridden PKFZ that it was Dr Mahathir who oversaw the project’s land valuation.