Minister of Transport or Minister of “cover-ups” ?

10857805_808210252558926_7165925584907050489_nThe Transport Minister’s appointment of an “independent committee” instead of the Auditor General and the committee’s shrunk down scope to audit KLIA 2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2) is seen as a cover up by DAP’s representative in the PAC (Public Accounts Committee).

In a statement today, Tony Pua from the PAC had asked if the Transport Minister has anything to hide by firstly not allowing the AG to audit KLIA 2, and secondly, reducing the scope of the so called “independent audit committee” when probing what Pua sees as a four billion dollar scandal.

“Why is the Minister of Transport so afraid of having the Auditor-General investigate the RM4 billion KLIA2 scandal?” asked Pua.

The PAC, tasked by Parliament to assess government spending, had requested that the Auditor General be allowed to audit the second KLIA project, which cost had ballooned from RM 1.7 billion to RM 4 billion. Ignoring the recommendation, the Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai had announced the set up of a separate independent audit committee, whose scope is limited “to conduct a detailed investigation of the sinking surfaces at the apron and runway with the aim of ensuring safety at the airport.”

“While the sinking surfaces at the airport is certainly a matter of serious concern which has also been highlighted in the PAC report, it wasn’t the only issue which the PAC had found to have grave misgivings,” said Pua.

Pua said that the audit should have focused instead on mismanagement by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), that is responsible for managing and developing airports in the country including the construction of KLIA 2.

“The PAC has found that the main cause of the problems in KLIA2 including the cost which ballooned from RM1.7 billion to RM4 billion and its repeated delay in completion was due to mismanagement and very questionable decision-making by the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) management,” added Pua.

These “questionable decision-making” by MAHB include the relocation of KLIA 2’s construction from KLIA’s master plan which stated that any airport expansion should be done on the north side, instead of the west side where the master plan had warned of swampy soil, and deemed as costly by engineers. KLIA 2 being expanded on the west, has led to the aforementioned sinking surfaces.

Pua opined that limiting the audit to merely “a detailed investigation of the sinking” was to sidestep the bigger issue of questionable decision making by MAHB which has led to the staggering RM 4 billion construction cost and the delays in its completion.

“It is clear that the “independent audit committee” will not be given any room to dig into the above faults and identify the culprits behind the scandal.”

“Is the Minister of Transport trying to cover up the gross mismanagement over the design, award and construction of KLIA2?”

“Is Liow remotely interested in punishing those being the decisions which has resulted in the profits of MAHB to drop by a staggering 98% in the latest financial quarter?”

Pua also asked if the RM 4 billion KLIA 2 scandal would go the way of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, which he said had become a “ crime without criminals” under the Ministry of Transport.

“Has the MCA Ministers of Transport become just the Ministers of Cover-Ups for multi-billion ringgit project scandals without any sense of responsibility and accountability?” he asked, urging the government to heed the recommendation of PAC and allow the AG to conduct the audit of KLIA 2 based on the findings of the PAC.

“MCA puppet” to head the so-called “independent audit committee”

Meanwhile, DAP Perak Economic Development Bureau Chief Chong Zhemin has weighed in on the issue, expressing doubt that Liow’s “independent committee” could be trusted to get to the bottom of the KLIA 2 scandal.

Chong said that the selection of UTAR president Chuah Hean Teik to head this committee gave little doubt that the Liow, who is also the MCA President, was trying ot “whitewash and cover up” the faults that led to more than 135 percent increase in budget from its initial RM 1.7 billion.

“Liow will argue that he appointed Chuah Hean Teik on the merit that Chuah is the president of Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and Pacific (FEIAP).”

“However the fact that Chuah also serves as the UTAR president has cast serious doubts whether he could carry out the audit on KLIA2 independently,” said Chong.

Aside from calling Chuah Hean Teik a “political puppet” that needed to be replaced, Chong urged Liow to widen the scope of the audit committee to include the probing of the RM 2.3 billion cost overrun. -The Rocket

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