It was most improper and unwarranted for the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to tell Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad to “shut up” about the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigation into the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal especially when Nazri is an interested party, being a member of the Cabinet which decided on the bailout.
On Thursday, the PAC had a two-hour meeting on the PKFZ bailout scandal, with a briefing by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang, who was accompanied by an accountant and administrative staff and Transport Ministry officials, including its secretary-general Datuk Zakaria Bahari and representatives from the finance, planning and port divisions.
After the two-hour meeting, Shahrir as PAC Chairman told the press that the PAC was “unsatisfied” with how the meeting went.
Shahrir said: “The problem with the Port Klang Free Zone is far bigger than what the papers have reported. Far too many questions were left unanswered.”
It was over Shahrir’s comments that Nazri blew his top yesterday, telling Sin Chew Daily that Shahrir should “shut up” on the ground that it was wrong to talk to the press before the end of the PAC investigation.
This was not the first time that Shahrir as PAC Chairman had made comments about ongoing PAC investigations in the past three years but Nazri had never voiced any objections in the past.
Why is Nazri so sensitive and high-strung now over the PAC investigation into the RM4.6 billion bailout scandal? Is it because Nazri has a vested interest, being an interested party as a Minister of the Cabinet which had approved the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout?
It is Nazri who should “shut up” about PAC investigation into the PKFZ scandal and not interfere with the independence of the PAC to carry out its tasks mandated by Parliament as the PAC is answerable to Parliament and not to Nazri, though he is Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs for the Cabinet.
I am disappointed that in his 2008 budget speech yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had failed to assume full accountability to justify the government bailout of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal.
This is all the more regrettable as for the whole week, both the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek bin Husin and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Datuk Seri Dr. Helmi bin Yahaya had been misleading Parliament and the nation about the true nature and character of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal.
In the 2007 supplementary estimates passed by Parliament on Thursday, the Finance Ministry asked for RM260 million for Port Klang Authority without giving any explanation as to its true purpose.
It was from my exchange with Helmi during the winding-up of the debate at the committee stage that it emerged that the RM260 million sum was the first amount of the RM4.6 billion government bailout for PKFZ, as beginning this year, the first annual payment of RM510 million for the RM4.6 billion bailout for the bonds raised by Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd — the PKFZ turnkey contractor – has to be made.
It was also only after I had made persistent demand, declaring that this was information that Parliament and Malaysian taxpayers have right to access, that Helmi read out the schedule of repayments in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout, viz:
2007 – RM510 million
2008 – RM660 million
2009 – RM660 million
2010 – RM772 million
2011 – RM487 million
2012 – RM733 million
2013 – RM170 million
2014 – RM170 million
2015 – RM170 million
2016 – RM170 million
2017 – RM179 million
Total – RM4,681 million
I fully agree with Shahrir that there are definitely more questions than answers about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal, which does not reflect well on the accountability, transparency and integrity of the Abdullah administration.