Friday, July 30, 2010

Former Malaysian Transport Minister, Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik denies cheating Government over PKFZ scandal

Tun Ling is an MCA leader noted for his political vision and conviction, a strong believer of moderation and pragmatism. His crisis management capability earned him the reputation of a problem solver of the MCA. Under Tun Ling's leadership, the MCA successfully overcame several crises that truly tested his mettle.

Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik arriving at the Putrajaya Sessions Court,Malaysia, Thursday 29th July, 2010

Leading the prosecution team: Attorney General - Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail (left) arriving at the Putrajaya Sessions Court with other lawyers in the prosecution team, including Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah (right). — AZHAR MAHFOF / The Star

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 29 July 2010 (Thursday) : source The Star online

Former Malaysian Transport Minister and former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik has become the highest-ranking person yet to be charged with cheating the Government over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and he pleaded not guilty.

The party stalwart — the fifth person to be charged over the PKFZ saga — is out on a RM1 million bail after appearing at the Putrajaya Sessions Court on 29th July, 2010.

Accompanied by his wife Toh Puan Ena Ling and sons Hee Leong and Hee Keat, Dr Ling later told reporters that he had faith in the country’s judicial system.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said he was shocked by the charge, but expressed confidence that Dr Ling would get a fair trial.

MCA is Malaysia's 2nd biggest political party after UMNO, and form the backbone of the Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition of component parties that rule Malaysia since independence in 1957.

Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik has been charged with cheating the Government over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and he now faces up to seven years in prison.

The 67-year-old former Transport Minister, believed to be the first Tun in the country to be prosecuted in a court of law, was later granted a RM1mil bail by Judge Suzana Hussin with one surety.

He was accused in the Sessions Court here of knowingly deceiving the Cabinet to approve a land purchase in Pulau Indah for the purpose of the Mega Distribution Hub project in Port Klang, which resulted in wrongful losses to the Govern­ment.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s office here between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002.

Dr Ling, the longest-serving MCA president, claimed trial to the first charge of cheating under Section 418 of the Penal Code and an alternative charge under Section 417 for an alleged offence committed at the same time and place.

He faces up to seven years in jail for the first charge and up to five years’ imprisonment under the alternative charge. Both carry a fine.

The prosecution, which came as a shock to the nation, was the result of a joint probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, MACC and the police.

Dressed in dark-coloured pants and a blue striped shirt, Dr Ling, from Air Tawar, Perak, appeared calm in the dock and requested that his charges be read in English.

He said “not guilty” when asked for his plea.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who is leading the four-man prosecution team, told the court that the charges were bailable offences and proposed a RM1 million bail to which the defence had no objection.

In mitigation, defence counsel Datuk R.R. Sethu said Dr Ling was a long-serving civil servant and gave assurances that he would not abscond.

He also applied for the next mention date to be set a month from yesterday.

Judge Suzana then fixed Sept 3 for mention.

Dr Ling, who posted the bail, was later seen shaking hands with the lawyers present after court proceedings ended at 5pm.

His wife Toh Puan Ena Ling and sons Hee Leong and Hee Keat were also present.

When met outside the courtroom, Dr Ling told reporters: “When you are at the Palace of Justice, you must be very confident of justice.”

Dr Ling, a doctor by training, served as MCA president from 1986 to 2003.

On June 13, 2003, he was appointed the party’s Honorary Life President in recognition of his loyal and meritorious services to the party, community and nation.

In Ipoh, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said party leaders were shocked over the matter.

Dr Chua, who was on a visit to SJK(C) Poi Lam here, told reporters however that he was confident Dr Ling would get a fair trial.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said it had never identified Dr Ling as the “culprit” behind the PKFZ scandal.

Another former MCA president and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said he only wanted the interest of the general public, especially taxpayers, to be protected.

“I’m not interested in specific personalities,” he said.

He added that there was a necessity for the authorities to keep the public informed of its findings, adding: “And if there has been fraud, then the funds must be recovered.”

Dr Ling is the fifth and the highest-ranking person to be charged over the scandal after former Port Klang Authority general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang and three others were accused of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and cheating by making false claims late last year.

The PKFZ project was mooted during Dr Ling’s term as Transport Minister, and the cost of the project – initially estimated at less than RM2bil – more than doubled to RM4.6bil by 2007.

THE charge:

“That you, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002, at Level 4 of the Prime Minister’s Office in Bangunan Perdana Putra, cheated the Govern­ment by deceiving the Cabinet into approving a land purchase in Pulau Indah for a Mega Distribution Hub project in Port Klang according to the terms agreed between Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and Port Klang Authority which, among others, are:

a) the size of the land being 999.5 acres or 43,538,200 sq ft

b) the purchase price for the land being RM25 per sq ft amounting to a total of RM1,088,456,000

c) the repayment period being based on a “deferred payment” of 15 years with an interest rate of 7.5% per annum (total RM720,014,600), and thereby dishonestly hiding the fact that the valuation by the Valuation and Property Service Department on the land was RM25 per sq ft for a repayment period of 10 years or RM25.82 per sq ft for a repayment period of 15 years, including coupon/interest that could be charged for the repayment period.

And as such, you purposely induced the Cabinet to give its consent to the purchase, whereas the Cabinet would not have given its consent if the fact had been told to the Cabinet, and the fraud was committed with the knowledge that you could cause a loss to the Government, where you have an interest in the transaction pertaining to the fraud and you are bound under the law to protect it and, as such, you have committed an offence punishable under Section 418 of the Penal Code.”

(Section 418 concerns “cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may be thereby caused to a person whose interest the offender is bound to protect”.)

He also faced a similar alternative charge (for an alleged offence committed at the same time and place) under Section 417 of the Penal Code that concerns “punishment for cheating”.

History of Tun Dr Ling Lion Sik (source - MCA website)

1943: Bborn in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.

1966: Graduated as a medical doctor from University of Singapore. Subsequently, he set up his practice in Penang where he joined MCA as a member.

1974: Elected as Member of Parliament for Mata Kuching constituency. He successfully defended his position in 1978 and 1982.

1986: He was elected MP for Labis. He also subsequently successfully defended his position in the 1990, 1995 and 1999 general elections.

1986: 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.

Tun Ling is an MCA leader noted for his political vision and conviction, a strong believer of moderation and pragmatism. His crisis management capability earned him the reputation of a problem solver of the MCA.

Under Tun Ling's leadership, the MCA successfully overcame several crises that truly tested his mettle. He took over the reins in 1986, right after the devastating 20-month leadership crisis sparked off by the existence of phantom membership.

The party was at its lowest ebb, morale was low and so were finances. The worst was yet to come.

The first test came when 24 deposit-taking co-operatives initiated by the Chinese were frozen by Bank Negara, putting billions of ringgit deposited by their members in jeopardy.

The MCA under Tun Ling's leadership fought relentlessly to help the 500,000 depositors in getting a ringgit-to-ringgit refund, bringing a sigh of relief to the Chinese community.

At the end of 1989, another crisis exploded when the bank took action against the MCA over a RM36-million loan. The problem, an aftermath of the 1984-85 leadership crisis, was aggravated by the 1985 recession.

To solve the problem once and for all, Tun Ling launched a nation-wide life membership recruitment campaign raising funds and through restructuring of Party assets enabling the Party to resolve its financial problems.

After solving all the crises in the 1980s, Tun Ling concentrated his effort to prepare the MCA for a take off into the 1990s and beyond and joined the government effort in nation building.

To assist Tun Ling's leadership, Insap was set up in 1989 and was given the task to draw up the blueprint for National Unity.

The four main thrusts of the master plan were :

(1) to defuse the differences among the various communities especially among the Bumiputras and non-Bumiputras by ensuring each community is free to practise its culture, tradition and faith to establish a truly Malaysian society;

(2) to establish a fair and democratic society which guarantees equal opportunities to all the communities in political, economical, cultural and educational advancement so that none will feel deprived;

(3) to create a caring society so that the hardcore poor will get help and assistance;

(4) to create a high-tech, progressive and prosperous society which is both vibrant and competitive.

In December 1988, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir set up the National Economic Consultative Council comprising 150 members from various communities. The Council formulated the National Development Policy in place of the New Economic Policy covering the period from 1991 to the year 2000. The NDP laid the ground work for the rapid economic development of Malaysia in the 1990s. The NDP was later replaced by the Third Outline Perspective Plan (2001 - 2010).

Another major contribution by Tun Ling was the launching of the MCA Langkawi Educational Project and the rapid expansion of Tunku Abdul Rahman College.

Under the Langkawi Project, the MCA mobilise all its resources in a new commitment to raise the standard of education among the Chinese especially those in the rural areas.

Under this massive programme, resources centres with tuition classes and computers were set up to help the needy students. University students were mobilised to help the rural students and parents were encouraged to take extra care in the children's studies.

The Tunku Abdul Rahman College was set up on February 24, 1969 in Kuala Lumpur to cater mainly for Chinese students who did not have the opportunity for tertiary education locally or overseas.

In 1991, the Government allocated RM20 million under the Six Malaysia Plan for the college. Under Tun Ling's leadership, a total of RM30 million was raised by the MCA in a series of fund-raising campaigns.

This was matched by the Government on a ringgit-to-ringgit basis, bringing the total to RM60 million. Under a massive development plan, the Tunku Abdul Rahman College spreads its campuses to Johor, Penang, Perak and Pahang.

Under Tun Ling's stewardship, the MCA also played a crucial role in the amendments to the Education Act 1961 which guarantees the continued development of Chinese primary schools.

Tun Ling's leadership also contributed significantly towards the liberalisation of tertiary education which saw the establishment of the New Era College and the Southern College. Both were initiated by the Chinese community.

The crowning success of Tun Ling's leadership is evident in the outstanding result of the 1995 general elections in which the party won 30 of the 35 allocated parliamentary seats and 70 of the 77 state seats. It is also reflected in the close rapport between MCA and UMNO leadership.

In November 1999, the General Elections' results demonstrated that the MCA under the national stewardship of Tun Ling once again won the support and trust of the Chinese electorate.

The people expressed confidence in the BN coalition by voting 28 Parliamentary and 68 State representatives out of the 35 Parliamentary and 77 State seats MCA contested respectively.

source - The Star / MCA website


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