Monday, August 15

Witness: Land in Pulau Indah repossessed because it was cheaper


KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court here yesterday that the Finance Ministry had recommended that the acquisition of land for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project by made by repossessing the site because it was cheaper than buying it.

Former Treasury deputy secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahim Mokti said the decision to repossess the 1,000 acre site in Pulau Indah was also made to obtain land at a lower price.

“The Finance Ministry was of the view that repossessing the land was better because we could get the land cheaper,” he said when questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah.

He said the decision to repossess the land was made on June 12, 2001.

Although the Finance Ministry decided to repossess the land, Abdul Rahim said he did not reject a motion by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) to purchase the site.

Abdul Rahim, who is the 13th prosecution witness, was testifying in the trial of former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, who is charged with cheating the Malaysian Government by not disclosing to the Cabinet an additional interest rate of 7.5 per cent per annum on the land price for the PKFZ project which had been fixed at RM1,088,456,000 by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) based on RM25 per sq ft inclusive of the coupon/interest rate.

Dr Ling, 68, also faces two alternative charges, of cheating and intentionally hiding from the Cabinet the fact that the interest rate of 7.5 per cent per annum was an additional interest rate on the land price.

He allegedly committed the offences on the fourth floor of the Prime Minister’s Office at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002.

Abdul Rahim said he recommended repossession of the land because of the many encumbrances and caveats on the land.

The land owner, Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), had used the land as collateral for loans totalling RM350 million, he added. — Bernama