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Former MCA president: “Didn’t you hear my story just now?” denied the accusation

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KUALA LUMPUR : Former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was ignorant of the purpose behind the letter of support he signed on his last day of work, the High Court heard today.

He also did not know that the letter of support, dated May 28, 2003, would be used to obtain a triple-A rating for two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.

Ling said he did not know what a “triple-A rating” meant, in terms of bonds.

Testifying under oath in the defense stage of his trial for cheating, Ling told Justice Ahmadi Asnawi that he was unaware of the functions of the SPVs Malaysian International Merchant Banks Berhad and Pacific Trustees Berhad.

He said that he thought they were merely “normal banks”.

The former MCA president and senior Cabinet minister said this during cross examination by lead prosecutor Datuk Tun Majid Tun Hamzah.

Tun Majid had suggested that Ling was fully aware the letter of support was used to raise bonds for PKFZ land owners Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) to clear its RM380 million debt and free the land from encumbrances.

The 1,000 acre land in Pulau Indah was revealed in previous hearings to be saddled with caveats and encumbrances, which prevented the transfer of the land to the Port Klang Authority.

Ling reiterated his previous testimony that he thought the letter was merely a “statement of fact”, and that it was “harmless”.

He also denied that he deliberately misled the Cabinet to believe that the land price was RM25psf with an additional 7.5% interest, and that he intended the interest to be over and above the land cost of RM 1.088 billion to enable KDSB to clear its debts and transfer the land.

Ling also testified that he was not aware that PKA could not afford the land buy, as the PKFZ project was meant to be “self-generating.”

Tun Majid then referred Ling to a memo dated May 18, 1999, from former ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad Noor, which stated that PKA could not afford to purchase the land.

“That was in 1999; after that they (PKA) had developed their own plan to make this project self-generating… They had a good (plan of) financing where they pay less in the beginning (when) they have to spend for building of warehouses and others, and later pay more, when sales from the warehouse (come in),” Ling replied.

When Tun Majid put it to Ling that he was lying, and knew from the beginning that PKA could ill-afford the purchase, Ling quipped “Didn’t you hear my story just now?” before denying the accusation.

Ling, 69, was charged under Section 417 and 418 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of seven and five years jail term respectively, a fine, or both, upon conviction. – TheSunDaily