By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik had never intended to deceive the government or instructed his officers to conceal details in the purchase of land for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, the High Court here was told as the former MCA president kicked off his defence in the highly-publicised trial this morning.
“If there was indeed any intention by the accused to cheat the then prime minister, Cabinet and the government, Tun Ling would have had to conspire and implement with a high degree of co-ordination with senior officers of the Transport Ministry, Port Klang Authority (PKA) and (turnkey developer) Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd,” Dr Ling’s lawyer Wong Kian Kheong said in his opening address to the court.
“No iota of such evidence was ever adduced by the prosecution,” he added.
Dr Ling was charged in July last year with knowingly deceiving the Cabinet into approving the land purchase for the PKFZ, which resulted in wrongful losses for the government.
The former transport minister 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.
But Wong contended today that at all times Dr Ling had directed his officers in the Transport Ministry and PKA to adhere to the JPPH’s valuation with regard to the procurement of the land, whether by way of compulsory acquisition or direct purchase.
“Tun Ling had acted in accordance with recommendations and advice of MOT’s (Transport Ministry) officers.
“Tun Ling did not at any time instruct, direct or request MOT’s officers to conceal, misrepresent and/or mislead any fact in their preparations of exhibits P63, P24, P73 and P74,” he said, referring to several documents including Cabinet meeting minutes and letters that have been produced in the court as evidence before Dr Ling’s defence was called.
Dr Ling faces a possible jail term of up to seven years, or a fine, or both, if convicted on the first charge under section 418 of the Penal Code.
The alternative charges carry a lighter sentence of five years’ jail, or a fine, or both.
MORE TO COME