Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Happened to the PKFZ Sharks?

The Prime Minister must keep his “performance now” promise to take concrete actions against the “big fishes” of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and decide on its future

It is now nearly 5 months since the Parliament Public Accounts Committee has tabled its damning report on the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) in parliament on 4 Nov 2009 where high profile political personalities, including a former Transport Minister, were implicated of abuse, criminal breach of trust and wrong-doings in the scandal.

The Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had promised Malaysians that more will be charged soon, after 4 persons including a former senior civil servant, Datuk Paduka OC Phang were charged by 17 December last year.

The police had even taken the step to freeze all the assets worth hundreds of millions of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd which is owned by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, a Barisan Nasional Sarawak tycoon cum politician since October last year.

The Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had also assured Malaysians then that the Government “will not hesitate to act against anyone and we will not protect anyone”.

The Cabinet had also set up a “super” taskforce headed by the Government Chief Secretary, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan to look into various aspects of the scandal, including identifying wrong-doings, instilling good corporate governance as well as reviewing its business and operational viability back in September 2009. However, it appears that despite the multiple committees which has been set up by the Government which culminated in the “super” taskforce, both the actions against wrong-doers and business “turnaround” plan is still not concluded.

We would like to ask the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat if the resolve to bring to book the main culprits to book has completely waned, and the “big fishes” will quietly be let off the hook?

While the initial actions taken by the government to charge a few individuals were trumpeted as the Government's strong commitment to fight against institutionalized corruption, their failure to date to take any follow up actions have proven that Datuk Seri Najib's administration is all-bark and no-bite. It will serve as a major black mark against the “Government Transformation Programme” campaign where “fighting corruption” is the major pillar.

What is worse, the Government is attempting to cover up the non-viability of PKFZ with misleading positive media reports on its performance. Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had proudly announced in January this year that PKFZ “had returned” to the black with RM15 million in revenue and RM5.2 million in operational profits. He has however failed to mention the fact that the interest alone for the 4% soft loan worth RM4.632 billion granted by the Government to bail out the project costs PKFZ RM185 million per annum.

This means that PKFZ is far from turning around and its debt is only increasing by hundreds of millions by the year. In fact, the Government might well do better in its fight to contain its budget deficit by disposing of the project than to continue putting good money after bad investments in this case.
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