| Boon Hock, Peter Tan and me in front of the godowns.Malaysiakini has started to report on the Port Klang Free Zone at the Westports in Pulau Indah today. MerdekaReview.com was the first Internet portal to report on the issue highlighted by me.This morning, I toured PKFZ for the second time together with several journalists and photographers from the Chinese press. I was accompanied by Peter Tan ( Selangor DAP vice chairman), Tee Boon Hock (Pandamaran DAP Treasurer and state committee member) and my assistant PH Chang, following my police report at the Klang police station last night.Let us hope that some, if not all, Chinese papers would report on the RM3.1 billion questionable land deal and contracts.I also hope that the PDRM would start its investigations despite of the list of implicated personalities looked like the “Who’s who in Malaysia”! BTW, the Commercial Crime Department has called me for an interview a while ago. Let’s see they would prove their worth.
Poser over mega ‘ghost town’
|Six months after its completion, the ambitious Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) resembles a ghost town, with only about a dozen tenants scattered about the site instead of the anticipated crush of clients. PKFZ – modeled after the highly successful Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai – was conceptualised as the region’s hub of choice for the export and transhipment of manufactured goods.In 2002, the Port Klang Authority (PKA) spent RM1.09 billion to acquire 405ha of land on Pulau Indah, and at least RM1.3 billion to build it up.Today, about RM2.4 billion worth of input later, it offers 512 standardised warehouse units, 260ha of open land, and four blocks of eight-storey office complexes.A check by malaysiakini found only one major company whose operations are visible from outside the perimeter.Norwegian oil and gas company Aker Kvaerner – the first to sign up when PKFZ began operations on Nov 1 last year.- only officially opened its sub-sea oil and gas centre last Thursday.While a spokesperson said the company is “very happy and very secure” with its choice of location, other industry players are staying out of PKFZ for various reasons.Bureaucratic nightmare
Selangor Freight Forwarders & Logistics Association president Tan Ah Beng said PKFZ is an example of a mega-project into which a lot of money – but not enough thought – was put.
For example, said Tan, there seems to be no overriding policy to streamline the myriad regulations from those of the customs department to the ministries of finance, health, agriculture, and international trade and industry.
These have been imposed on companies seeking to store, manufacture, or assemble their products in PKFZ.
“Without an over-arching policy and with the overlap of so many regulations, they’ve scared away companies which may otherwise have been interested. In this industry especially, time is money,” Tan said.
He also said the dimensions of the warehouse units (each measuring 5,487 sq ft) are at odds with what many logistics companies want when storing cargo during transhipment.
“They don’t seem to know what companies are looking for in warehouse units,” he said.
“Even before they’ve ensured this project is up and running well, they’re looking at another huge project in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in Johor. What’s going to happen to this project? What’s going to happen to IDR in five years?”
“Businessmen don’t want to deal with those things,” he said, declining to be identified.
A Klang-based freight forwarding player, whose company toured PKFZ last week, said the warehouse measurements are “all right”, but that there are simply not enough incentives to prompt a move to the site.
“There’s ample space for a company like mine to either assemble or store our goods in these warehouse units. But for what is offered, the price is not competitive. It’s expensive compared to other facilities that offer the same or better,” said the logistics consultant.
He too felt that PKA has over-extended itself on the PKFZ.
“There doesn’t seem to have been enough consultation and market studies to ensure they have some clients in hand, at least, before embarking on such a huge project,” he said.
DAP leader Ronnie Liu questioned why a public authority such as PKA – although it was privatised in 1986 – has risked so much of its financial strength by venturing into the billion-ringgit project when its mandate revolves around regulating Klang Port operators Westports and Northport.
“It’s understandable for private businesses to do so, but what does PKA have to do with risking billions of ringgit on a project that is so full of risks?” asked Liu, who had in 2004 lodged a police report over the authority’s purchase of the land.
When contacted, PKFZ managing director OC Phang, who is also PKA general manager, refused to entertain questions.
updated:2007-06-12 20:16:38 MYT
Besides Sinchew Daily, Oriental Daily, China Press and Nanyang also carried the news. Watch this blog for further details.