By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — No minister in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Cabinet had ever complained that the price of land purchased for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project was too high, Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik told the High Court today.
Dr Ling, who served for 17 years as transport minister until 2003, also denied that the government had been willing to acquire land at whatever cost.
"No. If the price is too high and it is not viable, what for?" he told lead prosecutor Datuk Tun Majid Tun Hamzah during cross-examination today.
The former MCA president (picture) is on trial for allegedly deceiving the Cabinet into approving the purchase of 999.5 acres of land for the PKFZ project in 2002, which had resulted in wrongful losses for the government.
He also faces two alternative charges of deceiving the Cabinet into believing that the terms of purchase - at RM25 psf and 7.5 per cent interest - were acknowledged and agreed to by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) despite knowing that there was no such agreement.
Dr Ling insisted to the court today that the issue of land price was never under his jurisdiction, pointing out that such matters were only for the Finance Ministry and its agencies to determine.
During Dr Ling's tenure as minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the finance minister and prime minister.
"I don't remember discussing price (of the land), price was always - in my mind - left to the MOF (finance ministry), the EPU (Economic Planning Unit) and the JPPH," he said.
"In Cabinet, did any minister ever say that the price (of the land) was too high?" Tun Majid asked Dr Ling.
Dr Ling said, "No."
When Tun Majid asked if he was certain, the retired politician said, "Yes."
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