BY A. AZIM IDRIS
ALMOST a decade ago, Malaysia was rocked by a colossal RM12 billion (US$2.6 billion) corruption scandal involving the development of a regional shipping hub known as the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ).
But despite wide-scale investigations on allegations of funds misappropriation, several arrests and countless lawsuits, not a single person has been held accountable to date.
The 1,000-acre PKFZ, an integrated commercial and industrial zone nestled in Malaysia’s most affluent state of Selangor, was mooted in 1997 by former politician Dr Ling Liong Sik, who was transport minister at the time.
It was originally budgeted at RM1.1 billion (then around US$300 million) but the construction bill mysteriously quadrupled to RM4.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) by 2007 when the project was completed.
In 2008, an audit by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by then-transport minister Ong Tee Keat concluded that the total cost of the project could balloon to RM12.5 billion, after factoring in interest payments.
The incident sparked public outcry, made headlines for years and became campaign fodder for the Malaysian opposition for at least two federal elections – but still led to no conviction.
And the likelihood of anyone being taken to task over the controversy looks to be wearing thinner by the day. Read more