KOTA KINABALU, Dec 9 – The withdrawal of a RM720 million civil suit against the developer of the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, is a typical manoeuvre of the BN government when faced with scandal, say opposition party members.
The parties lamented that the project has cost billions in tax payer’s money, with no one to be held accountable, after former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was acquitted of cheating the government last year.
“This is a very typical end of any Malaysian scandal involving the people in power over misappropriation of public funds,” said DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari.
“Tun Ling Liong Sik was acquitted, now the developer is let off the hook. As usual, when key members of the BN administration is involved, we witness long, drawn-out legal affairs with no conclusive end,” he said.
He said the new turn of events came very shortly after the former transport minister involved, Tan Sri Kong Cho Ha, was made chairman of the PKA.
“Is this his (Kong’s) way of ‘rescuing PKA’, by making sure all lost monies are not recovered? This suit was a chance to recover some of the losses, but now it seems all the money is gone. Question now is whether all the other outstanding lawsuits will be dropped as well?” said Zairil when contacted.
The Port Klang Authority (PKA) yesterday announced it had withdrawn the suit against the developer of the controversial PKFZ project, Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) on the condition that KDSB similarly withdraw its civil suit against PKA, former transport minister Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat and former PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng for the alleged abuse of public office for the purportedly malicious publication of the PWC advisory report.
Kelana Jaya PKR MP Wong Chen said that the retraction of the lawsuit may have been the only way for PKA to come out of the fiasco with some gains.
PAS’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that yesterday’s announcement was another bleak day for corporate Malaysia.
“I’m pretty sure the public and the tax-payers can no longer discern between the suits and counter-suits.
The PKFZ scandal made headlines in 2008, after it was revealed in an audit commissioned by then transport minister Ong that the cost had spiralled more than 10 times over its initial budget.
Dr Ling — Ong’s predecessor in both the ministry and MCA — had pitched the idea to create a free trade zone at the Port Klang area and turn it into a regional integrated cargo distribution and industrial park in 1997, during his tenure in the ministry.
Costs ballooned from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion in 2007, before an audit by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by Ong in 2008 showed that the total cost including interest payments was projected to hit RM12.5 billion.