Dr M backed move to acquire PKFZ land, Ling trial told

By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad signed off on a government report recommending Putrajaya acquire, and not buy, the financially non-viable Pulau Indah land for the Port Klang Authority (PKA), the High Court here heard today.

The October 23, 2002 report prepared by the Finance Ministry, headed by then-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, pointed out the land had many encumbrances and caveats and suggested the government use the Land Acquisition Act instead.

Former Treasury deputy secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahim Mokti, who helped prepare the report, said landowners Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) and Koperasi Pembangunan Pulau Lumut Bhd (KPPLB) had used the land as collateral for loans “many times”.

He told Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik’s cheating trial KDSB alone had mortgaged the land six times and owed banks some RM380 million.

Abdul Rahim, 61, also said Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Shamsudin Hitam had also recommended that the land be acquired in a June 19, 2001 letter to his counterpart in the Transport Ministry as it was cheaper and easier option than buying it.

PKA had originally been instructed by the Finance Ministry to acquire the land before receiving the Cabinet’s go-ahead to purchase it.

Former MCA president Dr Ling was charged in July last year with knowingly deceiving the Cabinet into approving the land purchase for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) transshipment megahub, which resulted in wrongful losses for the government.

The prosecution has argued that the additional interest of 7.5 per cent per annum, amounting to some RM720 million, had pushed PKA’s land purchase from RM1.09 billion to RM1.88 billion for the port project.