Crusader Ong did it all for justice

By Teoh El Sen, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Ong Tee Keat is no stranger to controversy. In fact, he is well-known for his crusade against corruption in the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) “mother of all scandals”.

In this second part of a recent interview with FMT, Ong answers several questions related to the many scandals and controversies he has been, in one way or another, involved in.

Ong said more big names are still unaccounted for in the PKFZ scandal, in which five people have been charged, but up Dr Ling Liong Sik came as a surprise to him.

PKFZ, the commercial and industrial project, was initially conceived as a RM1.82 billion venture constructed over 1,000 acres but the costs ballooned to RM12.5 billion. After the project’s financial records were audited, allegations of corruption, conflict of interest and breach of trust surfaced.

On the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES), the nationwide speed cameras system set to be implemented, Ong said he had dealt with the matter when he was transport minister.

The AES has come under fire for allegedly awarding the project to “crony companies”, but Ong questioned why the disgruntled companies had not complained sooner but had cried foul to him later on.

He said though he did not know the details prior to his ministerial position, the marks the companies had received (in live demonstation of the AES in 2007) were clear answers, and he stood by his decision to follow the test results from the tender process on the companies that scored the highest.

In the interview, Ong also condemned the sacking of two senior executives and a deejay in Chinese-language 98.8 FM radio station, but declined to say if he thought MCA (which owns the station) and its president Dr Chua Soi Lek were behind it, as was widely speculated. He chose instead to say that the facts of the case speak for themselves.

Excerpts of the interview are as below:

FMT: On the Port Klang Free Zone scandal, are you satisfied with the recent developments wheres culprits are being brought to book, especially the charging of Dr Ling Liong Sik?

Ong Tee Keat: Charging anybody came much to my surprise, especially in terms of timing and the wording of the charges itself.

Based on the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) audit report released on May 28, last year, I set up three independent panels to probe into the areas of concern raised by PWC. One was to zero in on all the doubts raised in the PWC report, the second was to institutionalise good governance within the statutory bodies, especially under ministry of transport; and lastly to turn around the PKFZ project.

The reports were submitted to me by two of the panels on Aug 10 last year. I handed them over to the government, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and commercial crime police. I presume (the reports) had been very useful to the authorities.

They say there are more people involved in the PKFZ yet to be charged, some say even politicians from Umno?