ONG VS KIT SIANG: SHOWDOWN IN PARLIAMENT ON MONDAY?
By Alan Ting
KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 (Bernama) — The battle between Transport Minister
Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang over the Port Klang Free
Zone (PKFZ) is set to spillover into Parliament on Monday.
The two politicians, who have been trading barbs and comments in the media
and cyberspace for the past weeks over the issue, are set to face each other
when Ong presents his ministerial statement on PKFZ.
Lim has taunted the Transport Minister in Parliament for what he termed as
“failing to be in Parliament to take questions on the ongoing PKFZ scandal” as
he wants answers over how the project’s initial development cost of RM2 billion
could swell to over RM12.5 billion.
The Ipoh Timur Member of Parliament even accused Ong of running away from
his duty to explain and “deliberately making travel arrangements to go abroad to
avoid a grilling in Parliament”.
“Where in France have you gone to Tee Keat, that you dare not reveal to
Parliament and the Malaysian public your actual programme of activities in Paris
and your travel plans?” Lim asked in his blog.
Lim also equated ministerial overseas visits as sheer pleasure or holiday
trips and escaping from answering to issues in Parliament.
This warranted a strong rebuttal from Ong, who was on a week-long visit to
France, when he asked Lim whether he did not have better things to pursue rather
than dabble in cheap publicity stunts.
“My present visit to France is to attend the prestigious Paris AirShow and
to meet up with my French counterpart. Its dismissal by Kit Siang is an insult
to his own credibility as well as the wisdom of all his blog readers,” Ong said.
However, Lim in his reply upped the ante by launching a website
www.pkfz-scandal.org to rival the official www.pkfznews.com.my, as part of the
party’s move to intensify its “assault” on the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
The website featured articles on PKFZ which was compiled from various
sources including press statements from DAP leaders on the issue to rival the
official explanations and reports of PKFZ by the Transport Ministry.
The government has established three committees to deal with the PKFZ —
namely an ad-hoc committee on corporate governance, a special task force of
legal, accounting and project experts and a third team, called the executive
committee to take charge of PKFZ’s business development.
However, this was not enough for Lim as he continued to raise the issue by
expressing his scepticism over the appointment of Transparency International
Malaysia (TIM) president Datuk Paul Low as head of PKA committee on corporate
“Low is an MCA life member and former chairman of an MCA think-tank when Tun
Dr Ling Liong Sik was MCA president,” he said, referring to the fact that Ling
has also been linked to the scandal.
Following that, Low has announced that he has left the MCA.
Lim also tried to table an emergency motion to have a royal commission of
inquiry into the PKFZ but was rejected by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar
Amin Mulia, who said it was not urgent.
His efforts did not stop there and Lim went on to demand Ong explain whether
he (Ong) “pressured the prime minister” to approve a RM1.2 billion payment as
variation of costs for the PKFZ.
The demand was made after a website posted a letter dated May 10, 2008,
where Ong had apparently asked the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi to approve RM1.2 billion payment as variation of costs for the PKFZ
project to its turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd.
Lim had asked why this information was omitted in the PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC) audit report on PKFZ.
However, in his immediate response, Ong said he was merely relaying the PKA
board’s decision, which was made even before he became a minister to the then
At that time, he said the PwC had not even started their position review
work and the variation order was approved by the PKA board in 2008 where they
had written to him, asking him to write to Abdullah to apply for the additional
At that time, Ong said PKA was also at risk of defaulting payment as the
deadline to meet its financial obligations was approaching.
Ong reiterated that he had nothing to hide on the matter and pointed out
that it was he who had directed PKA to commission an independent report and
asked for the findings to be made public.
“It is unfortunate that there are quarters who are uncomfortable with this
and have chosen to spin unfounded lies about me. Many of them hide behind online
anonymity to tarnish and discredit me and even leak out official letters,” he
“It is deplorable that a mere representation made to convey the PKA board
decision to the prime minister could be spun by (Lim) Kit Siang as pressuring
“If this is not blatant spinning, what else would better befit this?” he
Whatever it is, according to Ong’s aide, the Transport Minister will take
the opportunity on Monday to answer the points raised by opposition MPs on the
issue while outlining the measures taken by the government to save the project
when he delivers the ministerial statement.
In fact, The Transport Ministry has even agreed to distribute the PwC audit
report, together with its appendices, to all Members of Parliament on Monday
following a request from the Parliament secretary.
Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said
the normal practice for a ministerial statement in the Parliament was that there
would be no limit of time for the presentation but there would be no question
“It’s up to the speaker and minister concerned. It will definitely start
after the question and answer session is completed at 11.30am on Monday,”
he said, adding that it had been sometimes since the the last ministerial
statement had taken place in the Malaysian Parliament.
A ministerial statement is made in order to tell the truth, to explain and
to clear the air, he added.