Hornbill Unleashed

July 5, 2017

Will probe into forex losses be a repeat of PKFZ scandal?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

The Special Task Force (STF) set up by the cabinet to look into the foreign exchange losses incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) some 30 years ago is a sheer waste of time and resources.

At best, it appears to me more like propaganda than anything else. We shall know when the report is finally made public.

In the first place, former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan should not have been appointed to lead the task force. He has a poor record in handling financial scandals of this nature.

When the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal hit the headlines, Sidek was also appointed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to head a high-powered task force to investigate the scandal and produce recommendations to improve governance and PKFZ’s management.

The task force’s investigations came to nought during his tenure, although the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit report commissioned by then-Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat in 2009 to probe PKFZ had revealed the extent of the scandal.

The audit report claimed that the project outlay could balloon from RM1.96 billion when the PKFZ was conceived in 2001 to a staggering RM12.453 billion by the year 2051.

After years of operation, the PKFZ was said to still be underutilised. According to the PwC audit report, other facilities, such as a hotel and an exhibition hall that was larger than the Mines International Exhibition Convention Centre, were still not operational.

The aim of Ong’s report was to investigate any “misconduct or criminal element on the part of individuals or entities involved in the project and recommend actions to be taken against them if there were, recommend measures to improve governance as well as PKFZ’s management, prepare a restructuring plan and formulate business models for PKA and PKFZ.”

As a result of this, two former transport ministers, Dr Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy, were prosecuted along with former PKA general manager OC Phang. Phang was the central figure involved in the scandals.

However, the eventual acquittal of the trio did not go down well with former Port Klang Authority (PKA) chairperson, Lee Hwa Beng, who had been tasked by Ong to investigate the PKFZ fiasco. He lamented the time wasted by him and other people on the issue, as well as taxpayers’ monies.

Despite his effort to get to the root of the problem, Lee was sacked from MCA in the thick of the things, when the investigation was being carried out. To date, Lee said that he is still stuck in court cases, while the report by Sidek’s task force has not been made public, despite the fact that it was supposed to submit its report to the government by April 2010.

Therefore, if you ask me, Sidek should be appointed back to the investigation team to look into the PKFZ scandal, provided he is capable of delivering the outcome of the investigation in a manner that is credible.

With Sidek helming the investigation into the forex losses, it is obvious that Malaysians will not likely to be told the truth. In the first place, the hearing should be made public so that people are in the know of what is being said during the inquiry as in other Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCI).

After all, the forex losses are a matter of public interest, since it involved billions of ringgit. Therefore, this is all the more reason why the RCI should carry out a thorough investigation instead of churning out a report that becomes a mockery to all Malaysians. The world is watching the RCI investigation.

As pointed out by DAP supremo, Lim Kit Siang, three persons were conveniently left out in the forex RCI, namely former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad; the present prime minister, who was the defence minister at the time; and the chief secretary to the government at the relevant period, Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.

We can only keep our fingers crossed to see the outcome of the investigation.


Source : Malaysiakini by STEPHEN NG
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.


 

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