Thursday, 29 July 2010

Tiger In The Dock

Former MCA President and Transport Minister, Tun Ling Liong Sik was charged in court today for his role in the PKFZ mess. Ling also studied in my alma mater, King Edward VII School Taiping and then went to the Royal Military College before pursuing medicine in Singapore. I am sure the Old Edwardian and Old Putera circles will be buzzing in the days to come.

Tun Ling was an exceptional student and excelled both academically and on the sports field. He was also a born leader.

The PKFZ scandal was not the doing of one man; it could not have been. Now, why do I get the funny feeling that Tun Ling's leadership is again being called upon? Is he taking this "hit" for the government "team" since he is the most high profile and all below him in the PKFZ scandal would appear to be minnows in comparison?

Will he go to jail? Nahhh......I don't think he will. His case would make for a good distraction and publicity though...the government can again go to town about its "nobel intentions" with this Ling arrest.

Also, look at the charges; they only pertain to the initial land deal and not subsequent operational and management improprieties at PKFZ. Most of those who are following the PKFZ scandal already know about how and by whom the land was flipped.

In the meantime, let's see whether any other "big fish" will be arrested for post land acquisition criminal activity. It may be an opportunity to do some culling in MCA.

The following is from the Free Malaysia Today news portal:

PKFZ scandal: Former MCA boss Ling charged

THU, 29 JUL 2010 16:58 By Fazy Sahir

FULL REPORT PUTRAJAYA: Former transport minister and MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik has been charged in connection with the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

The 67-year-old medical doctor-turned-politician arrived at the Kajang Sessions Court, located here, at 4.45pm and appeared calm when swarmed by press photographers.

Clad in a striped shirt, he was accompanied by his wife Ena and two sons.

He pleaded not guilty to two charges under Sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code for cheating. If found guilty, Ling could face a jail term.

Sessions Court Judge Suzana Hussin then set bail at RM1 million and mention was fixed for Sept 3.

Ling, who requested time to post bail, was released on a personal bond. The former MCA president, who is being represented by counsel RR Sethu, would pay the amount at the Sessions Court tomorrow.

Asked if he was confident in fighting the case, he replied: "In the Palace of Justice you must feel confident."

Ling was charged under Section 418 for allegedly "misleading the Cabinet between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002 into agreeing to purchase 999.5 acres of land on Pulau Indah for a project, that is now known as PKFZ, at a price of RM25psf on a deferred payment method for a 15-year period, at an interest rate of 7.5 percent".

The cumulative interest paid would total RM720 million at the end of the repayment period.

He was also charged under Section 417 for the same offence.

'Accused withheld information'

According to the charge sheet, the Finance Ministry had already valued the land at RM25psf inclusive of compounded interest - and this fact was withheld by the accused from the Cabinet.

Earlier, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and three DPPs, including head of prosecution Tun Abdul Majid Hamzah, arrived at the court around 4pm but declined to speak to the scores of journalists camping there since morning after getting wind that a VIP would be charged.

Ling, a long-time cabinet minister, was also a close associate of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He was elected MP for the Mata Kuching constituency in 1974. He successfully defended his position in 1978 and 1982.

In 1986, he was elected as the MP for Labis and defended his seat in three subsequent general elections.

The sixth MCA president helmed the party for 17 years until his retirement in 2003.

In 1986, he was appointed transport minister. Prior to that, he had held the position of parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Local Government and Federal Territory, deputy information minister, deputy finance minister and deputy education minister.

Ling is the biggest name to be hauled up over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal thus far.

The PKFZ project, a brainchild of the MCA-nominee headed Port Klang Authority, was initiated by Ling when he was the transport minister in 1999.

Both Ling and former MCA deputy president Chan Kong Choy are accused of having played a role in the ballooning cost of the project, including giving out letters of support to help finance the project.

Business and politics

Ling's tenure as the MCA president was also riddled with trouble following a leadership tussle involving his then deputy Lim Ah Lek. Supporters of the two are still fighting it out to take control of the party.

His political life was also tainted with accusations that he had used his position and connections, especially through his protege Soh Chee Wen, to help his son Hee Leong in the corporate world.

Hee Leong was said to have embarked on corporate acquisitions exceeding RM1.2 billion in a matter of months at the age of 27, with the help of his father and Soh.

Subsequent investigations against Ling was dropped as he was said to have the protection of Mahathir at that time.

However, Soh was made to pay the price for the corporate raids, resulting in a fallout between Ling and the former.

Political pundits at that time speculated that Soh was targeted as he was seen to be close to Mahathir's foe Anwar Ibrahim.

Soh, in an interview with Malaysiakini in 2002, said that he was asked by Ling for protection against the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) investigations.

"He asked me to assist him in not implicating him in the ACA investigations and to omit stating both Ling and his wife's roles and the benefits derived by them from the previous deals... in hindsight, I regret my doing so," he had said in the interview.

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