*Kit Siang wants apology
*Tee Keat: PKFZ's estimated RM12.5b cost only hypothetical
Kit Siang wants apology
KUALA LUMPUR (June 22, 2009) : Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) today demanded that Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat apologise for alleged parliamentary contempt and breach of privilege in the delivery of his ministerial statement on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ).
He accused Ong of deliberately misleading the House in failing to give a full and proper account of the cabinet's decisions in relation to the acquisition of land for the PKFZ.
"Ong misled the House when he said that the cabinet on Oct 2, 2002 made the decision to allow the Port Klang Authority to buy 1,000 acres of land for RM1.08 billion at RM25 per square foot, based on the position of the Selangor government that the land could not be acquired under Section 3(1)(a) of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 because the PKFZ was not a public project," Lim said.
"I immediately pointed out that Ong had misled parliament as he had not referred to the cabinet decision three weeks later on October 23 in 2002 that the land should be acquired by the Transport Ministry through land acquisition under the Act at the price of RM10.16 per square foot."
He said Ong had not replied to that, which was another instance of ministerial irresponsibility and cowardice.
"If Ong fails to tender a public apology in the next 24 hours, I will submit a motion to refer him to the Committee of Privileges for violating Standing Order 36 (12) in deliberately misleading the House.
"This is what Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said was the option before me, based on his understanding of the scandal involving British war minister John Profumo in the House of Commons when Profumo made a ministerial statement in parliament which proved to be incorrect and untrue," Lim said.
Tee Keat: PKFZ's estimated RM12.5b cost only hypothetical
Maria J. Dass, Giam Say Khoon and Hemananthani Sivanandam
KUALA LUMPUR (June 22, 2009): Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat told the Dewan Rakyat today the PricewaterhouseCoopers's (Pwc) estimated project cost of RM12.5 billion, including interest, for the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project was a "hypothetical" one.
In a four-page ministerial statement on the project for which the PwC audit report had been made public, Ong said the overall cost would come up to RM12.5 billion by 2051 if the Port Klang Authority (PKA) delays its repayment of the RM4.38 soft loan to the government.
"The estimation was also made by PwC in a scenario where there is no intervention by the government or any efforts by the PKA to promote PKFZ. The fact is PKFZ Sdn Bhd has initiated several promotions and the PKA has begun to see results as more tenants are showing interest (in PKFZ)," he said.
In the statement, Ong pointed out that the main problem with PKFZ was the increase in overall cost of the project -- the initial estimated cost for land acquisition and development works in 2002 was only RM1.96 billion and later increased to RM3.53 billion in 2008.
He explained that based on the interest from delayed payments to PKFZ's turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd as well as the variation order and professional fee, the development cost would baloon to RM4.9 billion by 2017.
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, who had made numerous statements on the PKFZ in recent weeks, later posed a supplementary question to Ong, demanding the minister name the culprits of the scandal and insisted that former PKA chairmen and Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik explain the issue.
Lim said the minister did not reveal anything new or unknown to the public in his ministerial statement, which he said lasted a brief eight minutes.
He later demanded outside the Dewan an apology from Ong for "alleged alleged parliamentary contempt and breach of privilege" for deliberately misleading the parliament about cabinet decision on the land acquisition of the PKFZ by failing to give a full and proper account of the cabinet's decisions on the project.
He said Ong had said the Cabinet on Oct 2 in 2002 decided to allow the PKA to purchase 1,000 acres for RM1.08 billion at RM25 per square feet based on the position of the Selangor government that the land could not be acquired under Section 3(1)(a) of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 because the PKFZ was not a public project.
He said Ong had not referred to the cabinet decision three weeks later on Oct 23 in 2002 that the land should be acquired by the Transport Ministry through land acquisition under the Act at the price of RM10.16 per square feet.
When Lim attempted to take Ong to task for reading out his statement, Ong called him a "creature". He was later told to retract his word by Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar following a protest from Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah).
Lim also led a walkout by DAP MPs to protest being denied the opportunity to ask questions after Ong had presented his statement.
Earlier, when replying to Lim during question time, Ong said: "The current scenario shows that stern and comprehensive action had been taken by the Transport Ministry.
"It is unfortunate that there is an individual who twisted (the facts) and spread lies that PKFZ’s debt had ballooned to RM12.5 billion."
He said the project's cost could not be finalised as its accounts had yet to be closed. Hence the real cost could not be determined now in light of a possible financial restructuring pending a report by the special taskforce.
Ong also said Barisan Nasional Backbenchers' Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who is the Bintulu MP, was only the chief executive officer of Kuala Dimensi, the company that sold the land to the PKA.
"According to my records, he (Tiong) did not hold any position on PKA's board nor in PKFZ Sdn Bhd when the transaction and development of the land took place," he said in answering a question on whether Tiong had a conflict of interest in the deal.
Lim later posed a supplementary question, demanding that the minister name the culprits behind the scandal and insisting that former PKA chairman and Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik explain the matter.
Ong replied that the issue could not be solved if Lim continued to be hysterical.
"It is clear the senior MP (Lim) did not read the (PKFZ) report. What had been questioned is stated in the PwC report and it is not up to PwC to tell us who should face action."
Lim Kit Siang and Ong Tee Keat after the shouting match in the Parliament
When Lim continued to press for names, he was stopped by Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee.
In a press conference in the parliament lobby, Ong said he regretted the performance of Lim and his colleagues in the House in ignoring the Standing Orders during question time.
"We have followed the rules in answering any relevant questions raised, but when it comes to the ministerial statement, it should only be a statement that would be read out without any interjection or questions," he said, reiterating that Lim had twisted the facts.
Ong said that if Lim had "intellectual depth", he would not have misinterpreted or twisted the report especially on the PKFZ's estimated overall cost of RM12.5 billion by 2051.
He also rebutted the claim that he had applied for another soft loan of RM1.2 billion for the PKFZ from the government last year in his capacity as transport minister.
Ong said the loan was part of the RM4.38 billion soft loan approved by the Finance Ministry in 2007 and that he was only writing a letter to former Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to notify the confirmed and finalised principal sum under the main development agreement.
"I had only carried out my duty and the loan was approved before my tenure as Transport Minister. We must expose those who twisted facts because we will never get the truth by twisting facts," he added.
*Kit Siang wants apology