Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MACC chief plays coy, frustrates PAC probe into PKFZ

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23- Tempers flared today during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal when the head of the anti-graft agency refused to answer most questions thrown at him over its ongoing probe.

The Malaysian Insider understands Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan had stonewalled the bipartisan parliamentary committee by repeatedly citing legal provisions which he said prevented him from giving specific answers to questions from the lawmakers.

According to sources, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief's stance frustrated Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua to such an extent that he lost his cool and shouted at the government officer, accusing him of being in contempt of Parliament.

Pua also accused the MACC chief of double standards, citing Ahmad Said’s eagerness recently to make public statements about an ongoing investigations for alleged graft against Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Ahmad Said remained silent and refused to respond to the accusations.

When asked about previous reports on corruption and abuse of power lodged in relation to PKFZ in 2004, Ahmad Said said the old files had all been closed because it was concluded that there was no wrongdoing.

These included reports alleging a former transport minister had provided financial guarantees from the government for the project when he was not authorised to do so.

Asked if he still stood by the findings of the earlier investigation, Ahmad Said said he could not comment because the matter was still being investigated.

Ahmad Said also refused to disclose the identities of the 15 witness called so far by the MACC to assist in the probe.

He said the MACC would take up to six months to complete the probe.

The PAC was supposed be briefed last week on the MACC’s investigation into how PKFZ’s initial cost of nearly RM2 billion could rise to RM12.5 billion because of various discrepancies.

However the PAC inquiry was delayed when Ahmad Said failed to appear before the committee, sending MACC investigation director Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdul instead.

When contacted after the session, Pua refused to comment on what had transpired, saying only “Wait for the report”.

Briefing reporters later, PAC deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said the committee was briefed on the land acquisition for PKFZ as well as the letters on guarantees provided by a minister.

When asked if the committee was satisfied with Ahmad Said’s explanation, Dr Tan said it was not a matter of being satisfied as the inquiry was an ongoing process.

He said the committee would meet again next Tuesday to decide if the Attorney-General (AG) should be called to the inquiry.

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