FLASHBACK: Dr M oversaw PKFZ Land Valuation

July 31, 2010

FLASHBACK: Dr M oversaw PKFZ land valuation

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

November 5, 2009 – Malaysian Insider

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.

Time to Relax after a heavy week

Mongkut Bean, Tok Cik, Tean Rean, Menyalak-er, and my wonderful blogging friends,

Believe me, we all have had a rough week  that ended with Tun Ling Liong Sik being charged for misleading Mahathir and his Cabinet (2002) on the land deal for Port Kelang Free Zone(PKFZ).

Deja Vu! PKFZ is back in the news, proving that Anwar Ibrahim’s revelation of this dark deal (in 2007) is fact, not fiction. I am in a celebratory mood at the prospect of finally seeing the entire 2002 Cabinet led by the  then top honcho in court to be grilled by Liong Sik’s lawyers.

I am  in a romantic mood as well. The oldies I have chosen reflect the way I feel right now. Dr. Kamsiah (above)did not participate in selecting this week’s repertoire of great melodies of a bygone era. Why? Because I  have chosen the tunes for her with lots of love, and  for the women (Kakrubi, Maureen, Kathy and others) who have contributed a lot to enliven and enlighten this blog. Have a good weekend. –Din Merican

Bing Crosby–That’s What Life Is All About

Paul Anka and Samy Davies JrI Am Not Anyone

Perry Como–And I Love You So

Matt Monroe–Born Free

Andy Williams–Love Story

Jerry Vale– I Have But One Heart

Venice in the Summer Time

Dean Martin–On An Evening In Roma

Not Sentimental About Ling Liong Sik

July 30, 2010

Not Sentimental About Ling Liong Sik

by SakmongkolAK47

I am not at all sentimental about Ling Liong Sik being charged in court. By sentimental here, I take it to mean, regretting or feeling sad that he is being charged.

In my previous article I merely asked how can it be possible that Ling Liong Sik was able to prepare cabinet papers for discussion. Or that his version of the price of land to be purchased was accepted without debate. In open court, cabinet notes and minutes will have to be submitted. Many people will salivate at the prospects.

It is impossible to infer that in previous meetings the subject of any land purchases by PKA and KDSB were not raised. It’s not like buying kacang puteh (peanuts).

I am precisely not being sentimental by raising the issue. Because then, that would make the whole cabinet which presided on that day, culpable. Ling’s lawyer must put every cabinet member deciding on that day, on the stand. And when that happens, if some people who are held in iconic esteem by some are placed in the dock, we don’t want any outpouring of protests- don’t, because you will be accused of being sentimental.

If that is the case, then we expect many would be charged. If I am being sentimental, I will say, come on, let Ling go because he is a former senior minister, because he was MCA’s boss and because he is now a Tun.  Also because he was actually PM for a few hours. That would be sentimental.

But to raise questions that would probably lead to others being in the same boat like Ling Liong Sik hardly qualifies being sentimental. Sometimes these young cikus need to be educated. You come back from Amerika, you think you are very clever!

I am willing to say, by allowing a very high profile individual be charged, Dato Seri Najib is showing a strong hand in this. He is signaling that he is fully committed to transparency and low tolerance of corrupt practices and abuse of power. People will say that all this is sandiwara (theatrical performance).

Who cares, because the most important thing, someone is now charged. The public wants this and this will help his credibility. If this is a start, PKR people need not shout here and there asking the government to rope in more people. That will come. What if other Tuns were to be treated in the same manner? Then I hope if there is public outcry, don’t say they are being sentimental.

Beyond that, we can expect other high profile people will be charged with a host of cases. Maybe now it’s time to restore indictment for the 18 high profile cases which Minister Rais Yatim once said. We need to tell Rais he shouldn’t hold back. Pressure the government to charge all the people in the 18 high profile cases. It is now also opportune for newly appointed senator Ezam Mohd Noor to reveal the contents of his Pandora’s boxes containing indisputable information on corruption. When  YB Ezam?

This is a right step. Charge first and let the accused have their day in court. Who knows we may learn many things if Ling Liong Sik intends to make amends. Provided of course, we are not told before hand by the AG that only ONE person is responsible for the PKFZ thing. Let’s not pre-determine the number of accused in this case.

PKFZ: Foolhardy to Ignore “Missing Links”

July 30, 2010


Ong Tee Keat: Foolhardy to ignore the “Missing Links”

I laud the decision of the Board of Port Klang Authority to hold back its final payment of RM222.584 million to Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd. (KDSB)’s special-purpose vehicle (SPV), Free Zone Capital (Bhd).

The payment is stipulated under the New Additional Development Work (NADW) agreement signed between KDSB and the Port Klang Authority (PKA). A total of RM522.584 million is due under NADW, of which RM300 million had already been paid in 2008 and 2009.

The final payment under NADW, due on July 31, 2010, should be withheld to avoid crossing the threshold of what KDSB is legally entitled to.

I have mentioned in my earlier blog that it goes against sound reasoning to make full and final payment when there is a clear dispute, amounting to at least RM83 million for fraudulent claims, such as the supply of 33kv to Precinct 2 and Precinct 8, which has yet to commence from Notice of Payment No 1 until the last Notice of Payment No 24.

port klang free zone 070607 signboardThe PKA Board has avoided the risk of a ‘hollow victory’, when monies paid cannot subsequently be physically recovered, when the courts rule in its favour.

The Board of PKA had yesterday demonstrated its integrity by making the correct but difficult decision in putting the interests of the government and taxpayers first, as against political interference.

The move to ensure that 1/3 of the Board members comprise independent directors not aligned to any political master, which was initiated during my tenure as Minister of Transport, has begun to bear fruit.

Call for sound reasoning

My hope turned to despair when I read that the current Transport Minister may exercise his ministerial prerogative to override PKA’s decision.

While I recognise that this is a minister’s privilege, the exercise of this right must be tempered with sound reasoning and more importantly, considered with the people’s interest in mind.

The justification behind the decision to “pay according to what has been decided much earlier, according to the schedule that was set a long time ago”, is a sweeping one and indeed foolhardy. It must be read in the light of the following:

a) The existence of new facts – the ‘missing link’ in the PriceWaterhourseCoopers Advisory Services (PwCAS) report, of letters revealing that KDSB had given undertakings or guarantees that it will cover any shortfall in repayments towards the bonds should PKA fail to do so;

b) The above supports the contention that the “Letters of Support” provided by my predecessors at the Ministry of Transport are not guarantees, and effectively releases the pressure from the government to pay the bonds. In other words, the government is under no direct legal obligation to pay the bondholders.

Dismissing unfounded fears

port klang 260209 01This is supported by the Parliamentary Hansard that recorded a Deputy Minister of Finance stating the same. The letters also do not comply with Section 14 of the Financial Procedures Act 1957 to be effective government guarantees;

c) The fear of negative repercussions to our sovereign rating is unfounded. The reported default of a RM240 million bond by Malaysian International Tuna Port Sdn Bhd. (MITP), a similar case, did not create much of a ripple in the market, as was last year’s one-week default in payment with regards to PKFZ; and

d) The bondholders are not privy to the principal agreements signed between PKA and KDSB. The SPVs’ right to payment are merely secured under the assignment, which is subject to what is lawfully due to KDSB under the principal agreements.

It makes absolute sense to withhold payments to the SPVs pending determination of what is lawfully due to KDSB by the courts.

I hope that the current minister and PKA have enough gumption to carry out the pledge to continue with the PKFZ probe.

There is at least RM1.4 billion in disputed claims for all principal agreements between KDSB and PKA, including the Land Agreement (LA), Development Agreements (DA) and Additional Development Agreements (ADW), of which more than RM2 billion is payable as scheduled until 2017.

Sweeping the dirt under the carpet this year will not make the problem go away.

ONG TEE KEAT is former Transport Minister and former MCA  President. This statement was originally published on his blog.

Mahathir and his 2002 Cabinet Crew: Collective Responsibility for PKFZ

July 30, 2003


Dr Mahathir and his 2002 Cabinet Crew should testify in Court: It is about Collective Responsibility for PKFZ

DAP’s veteran leader Lim Kit Siang asked if former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad or any of his ministers from the 2002 Cabinet would testify in court when it hears the case against former  Transport  Minister and MCA President Dr Ling Liong Sik?

Ling was accused of misleading the government into approving Port Klang Authority’s purchase of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) land with 15-year repayment with compound interest instead of 10 years.

“Who were the ministers in the 2002 Cabinet. The deputy prime minister was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Other ministers who are still ministers include Najib Tun Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin Hussein, Nazri Abdul Aziz, Rais Yatim and Bernard Dompok.

“Other ministers then who are no longer in the cabinet include Rafidah Aziz, Azmi Khalid; three MCA ministers at the time, Chua Jui Meng, Fong Chan Onn, Ong Ka Ting, Lim Keng Yaik, S. Samy Vellu and Law Hieng Ding,” said Lim in a statement.

Still waiting for AG to act

The Ipoh Timor MP noted that as far back as three years ago in Parliament, during the budget debate in September 2007, he had focused on the main issues of the PKFZ scandal:

1. PKA’s purchase of 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd for PKFZ at RM25 psf when the Treasury and Attorney-General’s Chambers proposed acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act at RM10 psf.

2. The ballooning of the PKFZ cost from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion and its development costs from RM400 million to RM2.8 billion.

3. The four illegal “letters of support” by then transport ministers Ling and (former MCA deputy president) Chan Kong Choy for the RM4.6 billion bonds issued by KDSB through special purpose vehicles.

“These issues have not been adequately dealt with despite the promise by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail last December and the country is still waiting for him to fulfill his pledge to leave no stone unturned to haul in the “big fish” implicated in the PKFZ scandal,” said Lim.

Yesterday, Ling was charged at the Sessions Court under Sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code for cheating and could face a jail term if found guilty.

The 67-year-old medical doctor-turned-politician, who was bestowed with a Tun – the highest honorific title in the country – after his retirement in 2003, had pleaded not guilty.

The case, dubbed as the most high-profile corruption case in Malaysian history, would be mentioned in September. Ling, a long-time minister and MCA’s sixth president, was known to be close to Mahathir during his tenure in government.

The charge against Ling reads:

“That you, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002, at Level 4 of the Prime Minister’s Office in Bangunan Perdana Putra, cheated the Government by deceiving the Cabinet into approving a land purchase in Pulau Indah for a Mega Distribution Hub project in Port Klang according to the terms agreed between Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and Port Klang Authority which, among others, are:

1. The size of the land being 999.5 acres or 43,538,200 sq ft

2. The purchase price for the land being RM25 per sq ft amounting to a total of RM1,088,456,000

3. The repayment period being based on a “deferred payment” of 15 years with an interest rate of 7.5% per annum (total RM720,014,600), and thereby dishonestly hiding the fact that the valuation by the Valuation and Property Service Department on the land was RM25 per sq ft for a repayment period of 10 years or RM25.82 per sq ft for a repayment period of 15 years, including coupon/interest that could be charged for the repayment period.

And as such, you purposely induced the Cabinet to give its consent to the purchase, whereas the Cabinet would not have given its consent if the fact had been told to the Cabinet, and the fraud was committed with the knowledge that you could cause a loss to the Government, where you have an interest in the transaction pertaining to the fraud and you are bound under the law to protect it and, as such, you have committed an offence punishable under Section 418 of the Penal Code.”

On Objective Journalism: Zan Azlee’s Say

July 30, 2010


Objective Journalism is so yesterday!

by Zan Azlee

We always complain in Malaysia that journalism is never objective. Apparently, the government keeps a tight rein on the information that goes out to the public.

So all the news outlets (or shall I say the mainstream news outlets?) have a slant towards the ruling party, especially when it comes to political news. I, for one, used to complain all the time. I felt that, as a profession, journalism wasn’t going to develop, and neither would Malaysia as a nation because of it.

Even in the lectures that I give, I would constantly harp on about the importance of being objective as journalists. Give both sides of the story and let the people decide. I felt that there was no place for personal opinions and bias when it came to reporting the news. Leave that to the public relations practitioners!

But I think I’ve slowly come around, especially now with the Internet and mobile media being the go-to media. If you think about it, the value of journalism is fast dropping. If you’re in the profession, think about all those bloggers and amateur video makers.

They’re stealing your profession away from you because the technology is making it so accessible for them to do so. And they can do it well, too!

So if you think that you’re a pretty decent reporter, you may just find out very fast that your skill is no longer worth that much with these people around.

Look at the major news networks such as CNN and BBC. They are all now relying on citizen journalists and locals to provide them with the news. Why spend so much money sending a professional correspondent to some faraway country anymore?

Journalism needs to evolve to create new value

So, I think journalism needs to evolve to create new value. Maybe even go the way of being more artistic and expressionistic. Artists used to be highly prized by the community because they could paint portraits and replicate images.

Then the camera was invented and all the artists around the world found that they could not make a living anymore. But they evolved and found out that they could be even more valuable by putting more of themselves into their artwork.

Therefore, journalists should be more like artists. Be creative and insert some feelings into those stories, and leave the objective and boring reporting to the amateurs.

In this Information Age, everyone has access to all kinds of information and, well, objective news is becoming so abundant.So spice it up a bit. Be a little biased (I think creative is a better word!) and put some of your thoughts and opinions into those stories.

Huffington Post, Slate.com, Jay ‘Big Jaw’ Leno, Jon Stewart et.al

There’s so much evidence that this is what the journalism profession needs to ensure that they continue to be valid. Just look at news sites such as The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Their style of journalism is an evolved one and is clearly successful.

In fact, many people these days (myself included) don’t even go to the news media for their dose of information. They actually refer to comedians!That’s why comedy talk shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or sites like The Onion are so popular.

Putting emotions and passion into news stories isn’t wrong or unethical in my opinion now. Just make sure that you don’t hide the facts.So I guess that means the Malaysian mainstream news media has clearly been ahead of their time. They can definitely be successful in this new age of journalism.

It’s just ridiculous that they (msm) continue to insist (or pretend) that the journalism they practise is objective.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.