Thursday, November 5, 2009


By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — Former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik appeared to pass the buck over the costing and valuation of the Port Klang Free Trade Zone (PKFZ) land to his former boss, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In the verbatim of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) meeting procedures released yesterday, Ling said his ministry could only “state the fact that we wanted the land.”

However, Ling pointed out that the costing and valuation of the land was determined by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) which was chaired by former prime minister and finance minister, Dr Mahathir.

“Our job in Ministry of Transport is to only state the fact that we want the land. Costings, valuations and all that, it is not the function of the Ministry of Transport. We do not have a Valuation Department.

“Costings and valuations is a question for the Treasury to deal with. They have the Valuation Department and everything is there, not in Ministry of Transport. I think Tun Dr Mahathir who chaired it, and he was the Finance Minister also. He saw it very clearly. That was the fact of the case,” he said in the verbatim.

Dr Mahathir has remained relatively silent on the scandal which could cost taxpayers RM12.453 billion.

The PAC recommended yesterday that former transport minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy and former Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Datin Paduka OC Phang be investigated for criminal breach of trust in the PKFZ scandal.

PAC reported that the government would have spent RM442.13 and saved RM645.87 million if the land had been acquired for PKFZ in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

It also reported that the cost of the land was RM47.76 per square foot, or 67 per cent higher than the RM25 fixed by the JPPH.

The 405ha PKFZ transhipment hub, which has warehouses, office blocks and a four-star hotel, has been dogged by controversy ever since it was revealed that its original development cost had ballooned from less than RM2.5 billion to up to RM4.6 billion.

There were also questions about the possible kickbacks after it was disclosed that several individuals acquired the piece of land where the PKFZ now sits at RM3 per sq ft in 1999.

Dr Mahathir had said that he heard that the project was being plagued by problems but claimed that nobody reported to him of any wrongdoing.

PKFZ ran into further problems when the management company, Jebel Ali Free Zone International, terminated its contract in 2007.

Chan was dropped as Barisan Nasional candidate for the last general election and subsequently lost his job largely due to the way the PKFZ debacle was handled.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also reported that the project outlay of RM4.947 billion will go up to RM7.453 billion due to interest payments and Port Klang Authority (PKA) must restructure the loan or it will balloon to RM12.453 billion by 2051.