Wednesday, April 18, 2012
'Current minister more keen on car plate numbers'
Former transport minister Ong Tee Keat, who initiated investigations into the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, fired another salvo at his successor Kong Cho Ha for discontinuing his reform agenda on the project.
He quipped that Kong is more interested in the bidding price of new car registration numbers than addressing the unsolved issues of PKFZ.
On Tuesday, Ong claimed that all the corporate practices that he implemented in PKFZ to ensure good governance and transparency had been “dismantled overnight” after he was dropped as transport minister in June 2010.
He specifically listed those practices: The introduction of a whistleblower policy to arrest malpractices; instilling transparency in reporting the PKFZ figures on occupancy rate and rental revenues; the appointment of independent directors who constitute one-third of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) board; and the signing of an integrity pact.
Ong also blamed the current administration for not continuing his commitment to unearth the truth behind the scandal.
The next day, the Port Klang Authority (PKA), the statutory body overseeing PKFZ, issued a blanket denial that Kong was dismantling and reversing measures to thoroughly probe the scandal.
It also denied that both Kong and PKA chairperson Teh Kim Poo were reversing all previous decisions made by Ong.
However, besides repeating that the allegations were not true, PKA neither gave details nor specified which measures and decisions are still being implemented.
‘A blatant whitewash’
This prompted Ong to make a brief but hard-hitting statement late yesterday, calling PKA’s denial a blatant whitewash and lie.
“Denial without supporting facts and figures just for the sake of fending off criticisms is nothing but a blatant whitewash.
“Denial with the intention of lying is much worse than being incoherent. That reflects on one’s integrity in handling criticisms,” said the former MCA president.
He then turned his aim on Kong.
“May I have the honour of sharing such thoughts of mine with the present Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha, who appears more keen on the bidding price of new car registration numbers than exorcising the spectre of PKFZ, a scandal-ridden mega-project involving multi-billion ringgits worth of public funds.”
A check on the PKA official website revealed that the current board of directors only has one independent director left, which is against Ong’s previous decision to appoint three independent directors, or one-third of the 10-member board, to ensure checks and balances in PKA.
During Ong’s tenure, PKA had appointed three independent directors, namely senior lawyer Ng Mann Cheong, then-president of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants Nik Mohd Hasyudein Yusuff, and former PKA general manager M Rajasingam.
Nik Mohd Hasyudein resigned in 2010 when the Securities Commission named him the executive chairperson of the Audit Oversight Board.
Rajasingam’s term expired in November 2010 but Kong rejected the board’s recommendation to reappoint him. This leaves Ng as the only independent director until now.