KUALA LUMPUR: The release of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) audit report Thursday has brought together two rival political parties in agreement.
The MCA and DAP both issued press statements today welcoming the release of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit probing the scandal-ridden PKFZ and the decision to submit the document to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
MCA spokesperson Lee Wei Kiat commended the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat for upholding and encouraging transparency and openness.
“Irregularities involved in the PKFZ issue were duly reported by the media and subject to public scrutiny,” said Lee. “Even names of public and corporate figures were not withheld but published in the newspapers.”
Lee also added that the controversy would serve as a wake-up call to Malaysians to uphold integrity and accountability especially when taxpayers’ money is involved.
“Everyone should learn from the mistakes which occurred in the shortcomings here and prevent a repetition of the same anomalies in the future. From the lessons here, Malaysians have to move forward,” said Lee.
However, after praising the release of the report, vice-chairman of Selangor DAP Charles Santiago questioned whether serious action will be taken against all the persons responsible for the shortcomings in the project.
The failures and inconsistencies include escalation in project costs to RM7.54 billion from RM1.96 billion, weak governance and poor project management, as well as the bypassing of state government checks and balances.
Calling on the federal government to freeze the bank accounts of all persons implicated in the scandal until the MACC probe is completed, Santiago also asked whether the MACC could be taken seriously as 15 years have passed since the first police reports were lodged on the PKFZ.
Santiago also impressed that the significance of the PKFZ fiasco lay not only in the billions of ringgit in public funds, but in the fact that the country’s regulatory agencies such as the Department of the Auditor-General, the Attorney-General's Chambers, the Securities Commission had “failed to perform their jobs”.
“Given the failure – or unwillingness – of Malaysia's regulators and enforcers to do their job, it looks like we're headed towards a similar disaster,” said Santiago, referring to the failure of regulators in the United States to monitor activities of financiers and bankers.
Speaking to The Edge Malaysia in a telephone interview, Santiago said that there were three possible reasons why the regulators, including the Malaysian Bar Council, had not done their jobs.
"There is either possible collusion between the regulators and the people implicated in the scandal and political intimidation. It is also possible that the regulators know that they cannot do much, so they just kept quiet," he said, adding that this environment is not healthy for a liberal and open economy.
Santiago feels that the only way the controversy will be solved is through the set-up of a Royal Commission to investigate in depth the wrongdoings and inconsistencies of the PKFZ.