Monday, November 14, 2011

Nazri: Many in Cabinet opposed PKFZ project

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz told the High Court here today, that many members of the Cabinet were against the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.

This happened during a meeting in 2002, he said, adding that although there was no notes on it in any documents or minutes of the meeting, he could still recall that many ministers opposed the project, but in the end agreed to it for fear of it becoming a big issue.

"At the meeting, when the matter (PKFZ project) came up, many said that the project might not succeed. At that time, we did not want to interfere because the land price was high. RM1 billion was a huge amount then (2002).

"Many knew the land was sold for RM25 per sq foot (psf)," he said when cross-examined by lawyer Wong Kian Kheong, who represented former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, who is charged with cheating the Malaysian Government.

Nazri, who was then the Entrepreneur Development Minister, said that some ministers felt that something was wrong with the project.

Questioned by Wong whether he raised any objection to the Nov 6, 2002 Cabinet decision to purchase the land in Pulau Indah for the PKFZ project, Nazri, who is the 20th prosecution witness, said he brought the matter, but did
not protest.

Dr Ling, 68, is charged with cheating the government by not disclosing to the Cabinet an additional interest rate of 7.5 per cent per annum on the purchase price of the land for the PKFZ project, which had been fixed at RM1,088,456,000 by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) based on RM25 per sq ft inclusive of the coupon/interest rate.

He also faces two alternative charges, of cheating and intentionally omitting from the Cabinet that the 7.5 per cent per annum was an additional interest rate on the land price.

The offences were allegedly committed at the fourth floor of the Prime Minister's Office, Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002.

At the early stage of proceeding, Nazri told the court that to his understanding, the PKFZ project cost RM1.088 million, including interest.

He said the cabinet agreed to give a soft loan of RM4.6 billion to the Port Klang Authority (PKA) in 2007 to save the PKFZ project.

"Five years earlier (in 2002 before the loan was given in 2007), we (cabinet) did not want the government's money to be involved because they (PKA) promised to use internal funds," he added.

Nazri said that had he known the project involved government funds in 2002, he would have opposed the project implementation.

When re-examined by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, Nazri said that the decision on the PKFZ project was made by the Cabinet and not by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Meanwhile, former Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said that in 2005, the Transport Ministry had requested for financial assistance, but was not approved.

The hearing before Justice Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi continues tomorrow.

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