In a written reply to my question in Parliament on 14 June 2010 Minister in the Prime Minister Department Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said that investigations into the RM5.4million false claim scandal was still ongoing. He said the investigation papers have yet to be forwarded to the Attorney General chambers as investigators were still working on the case.
The Penang State Government is calling upon the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Transport Ministry and the Penang Port Commission to reveal what transpired in the RM5.4million progressive payment fraud two years ago in the construction of the RM65 million Swettenhem Pier redevelopment project and not try to cover it up.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was only highlighting the inaction of the RM5.4 million false claim scandal even though it was exposed by former Transport Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Keat himself on 16th August 2008. Ong said himself that the matter was already referred to the Attorney-General Chambers for action. And now the written reply contradicts this by saying that investigations are still on-going. (See reply below)
Penang Port Commission (PPC) Chairman, Tan Cheng Liang was reported to have said the authorities had discovered that it did not involve the Government’s money. She said that the authorities could also not trace the person who falsified the claims and insinuated that the matter was only brought up now for political expediency.
The Penang State Government is concerned over how the issue could seem to be dismissed so summarily by the PPC chairman herself. Rather than trying to shift attention, the PPC, Transport Ministry and Attorney-General’s Chambers should be focusing on trying to uncover what took place, who was responsible and to take action against these parties.
The case was highlighted in the newspaper on 16 August, 2008 by Transport Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Keat who said the Port Commission Authorities uncovered the case in March 2008. Ong’s shocking revelation that the contractor involved in the international cruise redevelopment project pier managed to collect RM5.4 million after falsifying documents.
The original claim for the progressive payments for the project was RM1.92 million. Ong said that the matter was handed to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action. What is most shocking is that there are no efforts to recover the money and that PPC and the Transport Ministry does not appear to be actively pursuing the case to protect public interest.
The Penang State Government would also like to question why the Transport Ministry did not pursue the matter to the end when it was former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat himself who revealed the scandal. The Attorney-General’s Chambers, Transport Ministry and PPC should not be evasive but come clean over the scandal to explain if any money was recovered and the apparent inaction. The authorities should take the matter seriously and be accountable and transparent to protect the public interest.