Port Klang Free Zone — Forlorn and pathetic air of another failed multi-billion ringgit mega-project

This morning, together with Ronnie Liu, Peter Tan, Tee Boon Hock and other DAP Klang leaders, I visited the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), which has been shrouded in such secrecy despite being open to operation more than six months ago on November 1, 2006.

The PKFZ has the forlorn and pathetic air of another failed multi-billion ringgit mega project and Malaysiakini reporters Fauwaz Abdul Aziz and Sabrina Chan are right in coining the term “mega ghost-town” for it.

The PKFZ offers 512 standardised warehouse units, 260 ha of open land and four blocks of eight-storey office complexes. After seven months of opening, there are only signs of two of the 512 warehouse units being taken up but not yet utilized. The only company that has visible presence of operations is the Norwegian oil and gas company Aker Kvaerner. Otherwise, the 1,000-acre PKFZ is an expanse of empty office blocks, warehouse units and land blocks.

There is no vibration of activity or even sense of commercial life!

No wonder the authorities concerned were so upset when they received word that I was going to visit the Westports and a security detail was very rude in demanding to know what I was doing at PKFZ, inviting an earful as to why a visit by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader should be regarded as akin to trespass especially when Parliamentary sanction will have to be sought if there is to be a billion-ringgit bailout of the failed PKFZ.

Many questions swirl around the PKFZ for the past few years without answers, and it is time that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s pledge to lead an open, accountable and transparent administration be respected by his subordinates, particularly the following personalities:

1. The Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy should explain

  • the viability, feasibility and integrity of the PKFZ; and
  • why he appointed MCA MP and former Deputy Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung as the new Port Klang Authority (PKA) Chairman in April when he should have known that there would be a conflict of interest situation in view of Chor’s position as Deputy Chairman of Wijaya Baru Global Bhd (WBGB), an associated company with Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd., which sold the 1,000 acres of land for the PKFZ at the very inflated price of RM1.8 billion when it was bought for RM95 million and awarded a RM1.3 billion contract to develop the same piece of land.

2. The PKA Chairman Chor Chee Heung should explain whether he would relinquish either the post of PKA Chairman or Deputy Chairman of Wijaya Baru Global Bhd to resolve his conflict-of-interest.

3. The main beneficiary of the PKFZ mega-project, Datuk Tiong King Sing, the MP for Bintulu, should clear the air over the many questions about the mega-project right from the genesis of the project to its present day. Tiong had made a name for himself for demand for transparency and outspokenness against organised crime in Sarawak. He must show he is fully committed to transparency in the PKFZ deal, as he is the main mover of the project being the person behind Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and Wijaya stable of companies, directly involved in the RM1.8 billion land sale to PKFZ and the RM1.3 billion contract to develop the land.

The PKFZ was touted as modeled after the successful Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, to be the regional export and transshipment hub for manufactured goods. After expenditure of over RM3 billion ringgit, the PKFZ has nothing to show except “the forlorn and pathetic air of a failed mega-project”!

  1. #1 by smeagroo on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 6:24 pm

    There will be more of such projects in the enxt 5 years as Msia is still able to fund for these projects. The plundering of the nation’s coffer will go in until we run out of oil and then Msia will die a natural death from within while the new millionaires will live happily ever after abroad.

    BUt am sure YB did get to breathe in precious and pathetic air worth about RM3bil in PKFZ. They shld turn it into a tourist attraction.

    “Breathe the most expensive air ever made” for just RM1 per entry.

  2. #2 by MY VIEW on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 6:46 pm

    Well, this is just another setback. This is nothing new. Malaysia has managed to survive after all with so many already failed projects, one after another. MALAYSIA BOLEH.

  3. #3 by justice_fighter on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 9:57 pm

    The BN goverment does not care as long as their pockets have no leaks. After all, the bills will be paid by the poor Malaysian citizens. sigh…..

  4. #4 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 10:16 pm

    PKFZ and IDR suffers from the same myopic vision of AAB and Naguib.

    See what Naguib said of Thierry’s comments on NEP in Bernama:

    “Don’t Meddle In Malaysia’s Domestic Affairs, Warns Najib

    KUANTAN, June 23 (Bernama) — Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed regret over the statement by the Ambassador and Head of the European Commission Delegation to Malaysia with regard to the New Economic Policy (NEP), saying that the envoy should not interfere in Malaysia’s domestic affairs and policies.”

    Poor Najib, it isn’t just the NEP, silly. The NEP, NIP, IDR, PKFZ, RMK9 and what-have-you including 2020, 2057…et.al are all part of a ‘ strategic masterplan’ foreigners see. If it’s not convincing, there goes some more FDI. Malaysia is not an island unto itself. There is competition out there. So don’t go wailing and ask why Britons et.al. visit Malaysia less than neighbouring countries despite the age-old historical links or why we receive less FDIs. It’s simply that Malaysia doesn’t have what it takes to draw them thither! Simple enough, ya? All of BN’s boasting is just hogwash.

    So now BN leaders under AAB and Najib not only suffer from myopia (shortsightedness), they also have hyperopia (farsightedness)! Can’t see far enough, can’t see near enough.

    Herr Thierry, das ist richtig. Alles sehr verschwommen und ganzlich ungerecht. Diese NEP ist ganzlich nicht notwendig fuer die wirtschaftssytem!

  5. #5 by yyh on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 11:33 pm

    think there’s a need to explore further. when was the land bought for RM95 million and how was it transformed into a billion dollar land. who is the bumi partner in kuala dimensi/wijaya? figure out if there is an organised effort to leeched the government big time.
    After all these investigations, you are convinced without a shadow of doubt there are irregularities. As before, you will then lodge a report with ACA which you and I know that the file will be there to collect dust. Afte numerous queries on the status by your goodself, proclaim no case by the ACA. Next day, headlines on all mainstream papers “No corruption in KPA gate. Government clean”. Sounds familiar?
    Nazri will then call you stupid again and a stumbling block to progress. What are you going to do next, LKS? Tear your hair out?

  6. #6 by mybangsamalaysia on Saturday, 23 June 2007 - 11:55 pm

    I fully agree with yyh “No corruption in KPA gate. Government clean”.

    We are always kept in the dark. Like a frog in a boiling water, i dont know whether my choice of not leaving Malaysia (migration) a good choice despite constant request from my wife, my age is catching up and if i dont decide in this few years….. too late perhaps. My excuse is that all countries also have problems of their own if not worst, maybe, that show that i am really a frog.

  7. #7 by therising on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 12:20 am

    Pls la guys, let’s vote out these scumbags…news after news of their deplorable attitudes and useless leadership are still being reported day after day and we just write and complain.
    Just do it! Vote them out – that’s the power have.
    Like the Celcom ad – “Power is in your hands.”

  8. #8 by bzbody on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 12:33 am

    FYI, WBGB is also involved in another multi-billion ringgit flood mitigation project. No wonder our friend, TKS can afford to own a private jet. Oh, am not sure the fact is right. Maybe, LKS can digg deeper.

  9. #9 by moong cha cha II on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 1:11 am

    ahhhh, is it the same also in putrajaya.

    many buildings but empty ones.

    Air cond on full blasts, lights all on but empty buildings.


  10. #10 by Count Dracula on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 3:56 am

    “Herr Thierry, das ist richtig. Alles sehr verschwommen und ganzlich ungerecht. Diese NEP ist ganzlich nicht notwendig fuer die wirtschaftssytem!” Endangered Hornbill

    Waaaah U oso German ah??

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 5:02 am

    “Mr Rommel also warned that the NEP could ‘lead to problems’ in free trade negotiations between the European Union and the 10-member Asean, of which Malaysia is a key member. The two groups agreed last month to launch free trade talks, which could raise Asean’s exports to the EU by up to 20 per cent, he said, adding that senior officials from both sides are expected to hold their first meeting in Vietnam next month. “ AP

    Globalization and Free Trade have its problems – not just to Malaysia or ASEAN but to the developed countries like the United States.

    Many American jobs have now been lost to India and China. Certain American industries are in danger of collapse as they are unable to compete with the cheaper priced goods from China. Chinese companies are buying up strategic American assets. More recently, American companies have had to shift to Mexico to make Made in Mexico products to remain in business – and then flood American market with Mexican products.

    Talk about the war on the American middle class!

    There is so much hypocrisy.

    To imply that European countries have and are dismantling all barriers to free trade, allowing cheaper goods from Asian countries to flood their own markets and kill off their industries is mischievous to say the least.

    The Ambassador is walking a fine line when he equates the dismantling of protectionist barriers with the politically charged New Economic Policy – a narrow approach to take in any case. A fine line though it is, it has to be addressed but only as far as this Policy protects inefficient industries and serves only the interest of the politically connected few rather than the long term interest of the country.

    Surely he is not advocating that Malaysia revert to growing palm oil and rubber?

  12. #12 by Winston on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 7:30 am

    Looks like AAB is making hay while the sun shines!
    Perhaps he knows that he may be deposed in the next GE.
    So, make use of whatever time he still has to squander more money and faster.
    While essential services for the welfare of the people are completely ignored, building more and more white elephants are the norm.
    Not only that the elephants are getting bigger and bigger!
    The thing that defies understanding is WHY the people, especially the non-bumis cast even one vote for the BN.
    Don’t they have decades of very bad experience from it?
    If you choose to make things bad for yourself, nobody can help you.
    Not even Uncle Lim!
    Just reflect on that!

  13. #13 by izrafeil on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 8:13 am

    Kita bagi Kuasa kepada MONYET
    Maka MONYET la yg Memerintah
    Kalau Kita bagi Kuasa kepada PERAKUS
    PERAKUS lah yg memerintah
    Kalau kita bagi kuasa Kepada PEMBOLOT
    maka PEMBOLOT lah yang Memerintah

  14. #14 by silhouette on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 8:15 am

    Can we list down all the mega projects and its costs that can be considerd as unnecessary or costing way above normal? This PKFTZ is something new to me until you start writing about it.

  15. #15 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 8:30 am

    This is why Dr. M has no credibility when he attack Badawi because the truth is much of Badawi administration is not THAT different than Dr. M. The only thing that has changed is that the players have changed AND fewer people are getting the benefits. The game has also changed to be more sophisticated but fundamentally its still the same game.

    So long as the NEP and UMNO hegemony exist, these will continue. Nuff said..

  16. #16 by TruthEnquirer on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 10:25 am

    What the Ambassador and Head of the European Commission Delegation to Malaysia, criticized about the NEP amounting to “protectionism against foreign companies” has to be evaluated in the context of what he (Thierry Rommel) further clarified – “As part of the NEP, all public-listed companies are required to allocate 30 per cent of their shares to the Malays. Companies without Malay directors or employees are excluded from lucrative government contracts”.

    Just because DIGI is 60% foreign owned, they are not awarded the 3G license and the WIMAX license even though it is the most well run mobile company in Malaysia, with marketing and growth outperforming Maxis and Celcom.

    Other foreign car manufacturers are not allowed to compete equally with Proton even if it still loses money after 20 years of operations.

    Citibank and other foreign banks are not allowed to extend net work of branches whilst Maybank is allowed to dominate with maximum number of branches reaping zero funding cost from the countless current accounts deposits made by Malaysians of all races throughout length and breath of the country in spite of his 50% Malay equity for lawyer policy.

    How could Malaysian government outwardly say it embraces Globalisation, become signatory to WTO [World Trade Organisation]’s and free trade agreements [FTAs] and yet maintain the NEP for protection of its political when its tenets and implementation oppose these arrangements with global players?’

    Najib is not insouciant about Thierry Rommel’s remarks because of their significance and impact on European and foreign investments to this region.

    Malaysia amongst all the ASEAN members is the only one that aggressively enforces affirmative NEP with its protectionist features.

    Any stance taken by European Commission Delegation against the Malaysia’s NEP would imply the prospects of pressure being brought to bear by ASEAN members against Malaysia’s affirmative policy if the EEC condemns with negative repercussions to the grouping, in the same manner though perhaps not in same degree as the pressure against renegade Myanmar for its human rights violations.

    It is therefore to our collective interest, and the interest of a better Malaysia to support Thierry Rommel’s antipathy expressed towards the NEP rather than take Undergrad2’s approach of attacking his statement on grounds of “hypocrisy” of European countries that themselves through the EC have erected barriers to free trade impeding entry of cheaper goods from Asian countries.

    Who cares about EEC’s hypocrisy when our government is no less in its justification of the NEP and the EEC’s hypocrisy helps us to accelerate the unwinding of the NEP that is the source of multiple woes of this country?

  17. #17 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 11:56 am

    The questions are :

    1. Where did all the money spent, all RM 2, RM 3 or RM 4.1 billion, come from, from which and whose budget?

    2. Is this sum actually budgetted for? If not and if there is a cost overrun, shouldn’t there be an application for additional funds and budget which would have triggered many queries at an early stage?

    3. Why this spend first and be dammed policy? What is the Board of Directors and Audit Committee (or similar) doing? Where are the timely checks and balances?

    4. All projects, including government projects, have some form of criterias to assess whether they are successful or not, whether they have met their objectives or not etc. etc.

    Maybe the Institure of Integrity and also the Corporate Governance Institute might wish to comment on this and other similar issues to justify their establishment and existence. And the relevant Parliament committee as well.

  18. #18 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 2:41 pm

    “Who cares about EEC’s hypocrisy when our government is no less in its justification of the NEP and the EEC’s hypocrisy helps us to accelerate the unwinding of the NEP that is the source of multiple woes of this country?” TruthEnquirer

    You can accuse the government of many things – the continued pursuit of what is essentially a racist policy to benefit the politically connected few among the Malays beyond its original time frame, the entry into heavy industries like iron and steel, sponge iron and automobiles when they require economies of scale to be viable, the continued use of the infant industry argument to support certain industries which have developed vested interests and long ceased to qualify as “infant industries” – and of wanting to eat the cake and keep it at the same time when it comes to free trade and globalization.

    The fact remains that Malaysia’s banking industry, for example, would have been dominated by foreign interests, serving foreign shareholders and causing a massive drain of the country’s foreign reserves as profits are not ploughed back but remitted annually to their headquarters offshore. A Japanese bank, for example, specializing in the financing of foreign trade has no incentive to expand into the rural areas to serve the Malaysian public. The policy requiring their local incorporation is the right step in the right direction.

    All I am saying is that when it comes to protecting its own industries, national interests still matter. President Bush an advocate of free trade has been heavily criticized by corporate America. Many American industries are suffering today as they relocate offshore to India and China to take advantage of the FTA, outsourcing everything at the expense of national interests albeit short term.

    Like I said earlier, you can accuse the Malaysian government of many things but hypocrisy is not one of them.

  19. #19 by Count Dracula on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 3:13 pm

    NEP?? [deleted]

  20. #20 by dawsheng on Sunday, 24 June 2007 - 11:57 pm

    I am one of those who have the Malaysian dream, but that dream is crashing along with all these failed projetcs in Malaysia. Just what are the problems facing all these failed projects I really don’t have a clue, I just know I am having a hard time living.

  21. #21 by Godamn Singh on Monday, 25 June 2007 - 2:49 am

    They are cash cows for the politicians. These are cows not bred for their milk or their beef.

    They are not cows Sheriff Singh could go to and ask, “Got milk? I have ginger”.

  22. #22 by ethnicmalaysian on Monday, 25 June 2007 - 11:53 am

    “you can accuse the Malaysian government of many things but hypocrisy is not one of them.” I’m incredulous that such a statement could be made. Hypocrisy is not only present in the Malaysian government, it is rampant, accepted and being increasingly ‘institutionalised’. Witness the statement by Nazri in Parliament (no less) that AAB can go abroad and preach to the world about religious and inter-faith dialogue but cannot do so at home as it is deemed not acceptable to the local Muslim constituency. If this is not hypocrisy, don’t know what is. This is just one of so many examples of hypocrisy that you see everyday, also known as double standards or ‘contradictions’.
    Still remember the 80s when Malaysia strongly criticised the apartheid regime in South Africa, what a laugh! The Malaysian Govt (ie Umno) has perfected the art of hypocrisy and is a leading exponent in the world. And the NEP is not a protection of national interests; it is nothing more than a protection of Umno.

  23. #23 by sotong on Monday, 25 June 2007 - 3:36 pm

    NEP properly and fairly implemented would benefit the ordinary people and the country.

    But it had been shamelessly and unscrupulously exploited by the selected few for decades to accumulate enormous wealth.

    Wealth had gone to the wrong people at the great expense of the ordinary people and its consequences are permanent, long term and far reaching.

    This grossly exploited NEP had done enormous damage and will change the country forever.

  24. #24 by undergrad2 on Monday, 25 June 2007 - 8:51 pm

    “If this is not hypocrisy, don’t know what is.” Ethincmalaysian

    That is not hypocrisy but blatant attempts at misleading the international community. These politicians go glob trotting, and making speeches that they hope might not be reported at home – speeches ‘not for domestic consumption’ so they think but on many occasions they do get reported though not in full. Just follow where our PM goes and follow what he says and to whom, his speeches etc.

    That is not hypocrisy.

  25. #25 by ethnicmalaysian on Tuesday, 26 June 2007 - 11:39 am

    To me, hypocrisy to put it simply is lip service – you cannot say that our government is not guilty of that surely whether locally or overseas. Arguing on the basis of semantics / definitions should not detract from recognizing that the government is guilty of saying something (on corruption, religion, public delivery, education, environment) and doing something entirely different or not doing it at all.

  26. #26 by tcy on Tuesday, 26 June 2007 - 8:16 pm

    YB Lim, will you question Datuk Tiong King Sing, the MP for Bintulu during the recent Parliament sitting which Tiong had seriously involved in the RM1.8 billion land sale to PKFZ and the RM1.3 billion contract to develop the land please? Thanks!

  27. #27 by Toyol on Monday, 2 July 2007 - 11:48 am

    Remove the NEP, then PKFZ will prosper. Investors not coming bcos of racial undercurrenst caused by discriminatory policies. To them, this country is not as stable as what our politicians would like us to think.

  28. #28 by Chong Zhemin on Friday, 11 April 2008 - 11:32 am

    One most important question to be answered.

    Who owns Kuala Dimensi?

    Anyone can get a full list of the shareholders?

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