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RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal - Abdullah must explain why he is breaking another pledge when he became Prime Minister of no mega-billion-ringgit bail-outs

Media Statement (2)  
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said that he would ask the Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy to explain why concerns by Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) addressed to Chan over the progress of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) were not entertained. 

This was his response to the Sun’s front-page report yesterday that Jafza pulled out of the PKFZ deal because of political interference, bureaucracy and breaches of the management agreement signed between Jafza and the Port Klang Authority (PKA). 

Jafza executive chairman Sultan Ahmad Sulayem and its senior vice president (international operations) Chuck Heath wrote to Chan on March 11 and May 29 last year respectively but received no replies. 

Chan must not only explain his role in the pull-out of Zafza from PKFZ, the Transport Minister must publicly explain and account for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, now leading to a RM4.6 billion government bail-out of the project when the originally RM1.1 billion PKFZ had started as a “feasible and self-financing” project which would not require a single sen of public funds. 

Yesterday, when addressing some 1,200 delegates including ministers, menteris besar and chief ministers attending the National Asset and Facility Management Convention, Abdullah said action should be taken against those in the public sector who were responsible for maintaining public buildings when public buildings fall apart. 

Let Abdullah start off this culture of responsibility with the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, and bring to book all public officials, from Cabinet level downwards, who were responsible for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – or is this going to be a repeat of a bigger RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Finance Scandal more than 20 years ago of “a heinous crime without criminals”? 

If Chan as Transport Minister must bear full responsibility for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, then an example must be made with his resignation or removal from Cabinet – as otherwise, all the talk about public accountability and responsibility under the Abdullah administration are just hot air without credibility. 

In this case of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, Abdullah himself must explain why he is breaking another pledge when he became Prime Minister of no mega-billion-ringgit bailouts. 

Unless and until a powerful public case could be made as to why Abdullah should start off a new cycle of mega-billion-ringgit bails-outs, the Prime Minister must remove the Whip in Parliament and allow Members of Parliament from Barisan Nasional the freedom to reject the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout package when it is proposed in Parliament in the forthcoming meeting starting on August 27. This is because MPs who voted for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout will be assuming full personal responsibility for the scandal as well.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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