Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat showing special task force report  commissioned by his Ministry. Najib today announced new, high-powered task force to investigate PKFZ project.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat showing special task force report commissioned by his Ministry. Najib today announced new, high-powered task force to investigate PKFZ project. (Photo: Malaysian Insider)

The government has set up a high-powered task force to look into the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced here.

He said the task force would be made up of the Chief Secretary to the Government, the Treasury secretary-general, the Attorney-General, and officials from the Transport and Finance ministries.

Speaking to reporters after breaking fast with Cabinet ministers and other dignitaries at his Sri Satria residence here Wednesday, Najib said the Cabinet discussed the issue at length at its meeting today and decided to set up the task force.

“The issue is divided into three. One is to identify if there was any misappropriation or abuse of power or anyone acted against the law. This would be handled by the police and the attorney-general. We want a through and complete investigation into the matter. Truth should be the priority.

“The second is good governance. We want to know if, since the start of the project, there was good governance. And the third is what we could do with the PKFZ now which could give us value for money.

We also want to reduce the operational cost,” he said. “As for the second and third aspects, we have decided to set up the task force. This task force would report back to the Cabinet and then we would initiate the necessary action,” he added.

The PKFZ was an idea mooted by the government in the 1990s to provide improved facilities for international cargo distribution and consolidation at Port Klang, the world’s 16th busiest port.

Its development, covering some 400 hectares, opened up a can of worms when its cost rose to RM4.6 billion from RM1.1 billion.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said the government also wanted to know if there was any financial mismanagement in the handling of the project and, if there was a serious breach, “action would be taken no matter who is involved”.

He said the setting up of the task force underlined the seriousness of the government in getting to the bottom of the issue, which had been hogging the pages of newspapers over the last month allegedly due to financial irregularities.

Najib said that though the task force has not been given any deadline to report back to the Cabinet, its members were all aware that the report should be completed as soon as possible.

Asked about the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the matter, he said that was a separate investigation.

“They (MACC) are looking at some reports (that were lodged). That would be separate from what the task force has been entrusted to do,” he said.

— BERNAMA