Ling trial: 12 Ministers to be called in defence

By S Tamarai Chelvi, The Sun

The defence in former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik’s cheating trial intends to call a dozen former and present cabinet ministers, including prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his two predecessors: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ling’s lawyer Wong Kian Kheong said this after the prosecution closed its case after the 25th witness, Investigating Officer Supt R Rajagopal completed his testimony at the High Court today.

Senior DPP Tun Majid Tun Hamzah closed the prosecution case and offered 113 prosecution witnesses to the defence team.

“We will make them available upon request,” said Tun Majid.

At this point, Wong said the defence will be calling Najib, Mahathir, Abdullah, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Tan Sri Musa Mohamed, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, Tan Sri Leo Moggie, Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik.

At this point, the judge Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi asked: “You are calling almost all the cabinet ministers?”, causing those seated at the public gallery to break out into laughter.

Wong explained that the charge stated that Ling cheated the cabinet and asked the court for more time to obtain instruction from Ling on other witnesses.

Wong said the defence is calling cabinet members who were present at a meeting chaired by Najib, who was then Deputy Prime Minister on June 27, 2007.

The meeting gave retrospective approval for the Port Klang Free Zone project development cost to balloon from RM1.08 billion to RM4.6 billion in 2007.

Several other ministers who Wong intends to call were in the cabinet in 2002.

Also on the list of intended witnesses is Tan Sri Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman, who was special economic adviser for Mahathir during the period.

Judge Ahmadi then fixed Dec 12 and 13 for both parties to submit at the end of the prosecution case. He also said the parties can prepare written submissions to highlight important points.

Ling, 68, is charged with cheating the government by not disclosing to the Cabinet an additional interest rate of 7.5 percent per annum on the purchase price of the land for the PKFZ project, which had been fixed at RM1,088,456,000 by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) based on RM25 per sq ft inclusive of the coupon/interest rate.

He also faces two alternative charges, of cheating and intentionally omitting from the Cabinet that the 7.5 percent per annum was an additional interest rate on the land price.

The offences were allegedly committed at the fourth floor of the Prime Minister’s Office, Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002.