TheSun daily today front paged a report by R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez that Port Klang Authority (PKA) will undertake a house-cleaning exercise and go back to basics to what it is supposed to be – a regulatory body and safeguarding its revenue. Read it here.
Newly-appointed chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, a former three-term Selangor state assemblyman for Subang Jaya, said a revamp of both the PKA and the Port Klang Free Trade Zone (PKFZ) boards is in the pipeline, and it is learnt that Westport’s Gnanalingam has also tendered his resignation from the latter. For starters, a firm of auditors will be appointed to go through the entire accounts and activities of the PKFZ. Lee said the selection of an international firm* (which he will announce at PKA’s first board meeting today), is to ensure that it is independent and free from interference while conducting its audit. “People have no confidence in the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) or PAC (Public Accounts Committee), so this is the best option,” he said. Asked if wrong-doers will be named and shamed, Lee said: “I will recommend that the findings of the audit be made public and in case of impropriety, that the law takes its course".
Since port operations had been privatised, Lee said, the PKA should focus on its original objectives. He said that he had been informed of other activities of PKA, including property development and other projects. The authority had entered into a JV agreement to develop a huge parcel of land where bungalows for senior managers was situated. The buildings were demolished but it has since joined a long list of abandoned projects. Plans are also afoot to utilise its large land bank in Port Klang for development in a bid to raise money for the PKFZ.
“But more importantly, the focus will be on getting to the bottom of how costs escalated to RM4.6 billion – far above the original RM2 billion,” Lee told theSun yesterday. “However, we have to move forward because so much has been invested and priority will be making PKFZ a viable venture by ensuring that its occupancy is at acceptable levels and providing professional services to clients,” said Lee, adding that one way to go was by making PKFZ more high-tech and capitalising on its proximity to Westport. He also revealed that PKA is looking for a suitable candidate to lead the management team and that the person will not be a political appointee. “On the contrary, meritocracy will rule,” said Lee, adding that the candidate will not be limited to locals.
“I am certain that with Datuk Ong Tee Keat at the helm, I will have a free hand in running the port as he is a no-nonsense person and is as adamant as I am to get to the bottom of the PKFZ issue,” said Lee, a qualified accountant whose appointment was announced by the transport minister on Friday. “I am well aware of the challenges and pitfalls but I am prepared to fulfil my duties transparently and effectively.” Lee, however, opined that PKFZ was a bad idea to start with. “Tariffs worldwide are going down, so how is PKFZ going to be attractive to investors? With the worldwide economic downturn, manufacturing sectors are also being relocated to China, India and Vietnam,” said Lee.
In the meantime, a 'little bird' told me that Nadeswaran may be getting a visit by some denizens of Bukit Aman this morning ... and we are all still talking about press freedom. Sheesh.
*Update at 1800hrs: It is learnt that Pricewaterhouse Coopers Malaysia has been appointed to go through the entire accounts and activities of the PKFZ.