Come clean on Scomi, Pak Lah urged

Come clean on Scomi, Pak Lah urged
Arfa’eza A Aziz Mar 22, 06 7:08pm
URL: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/48745

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must come clean on any link between the
RM4.4 billion public transport trust fund and the involvement of his son’s
company in several transport-related projects, said an opposition
politician.

PAS vice-president Husam Musa said he was concerned with recent developments
that have raised “an obvious question”.

He asked whether Abdullah’s son Kamaluddin, who owns a controlling stake in
Scomi Group Bhd, will benefit from the RM4.4 billion savings from fuel
subsidies that will be channelled into a trust fund to improve public
transport.

He said one news report stated that Scomi had won a RM50 million project to
overhaul and maintain national railway company KTM Bhd.

Another press report revealed that the company’s subsidiary, Scomi
Engineering Bhd, is eyeing a project involving the fabrication of body parts
for buses, for the government-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Sdn Bhd
(PNSB).

“From the reports, we see clear ties between the premier’s decision to
reduce the fuel subsidy and decision to invest the savings in the public
transportation sector. If we follow this to a logical conclusion, we would
see his son benefiting from these decisions,” claimed Husam.

He said that Abdullah cannot continue to be silent on such issues because
these involve the interests of every Malaysian who is suffering because of
the 30-sen fuel price increase following the cutback in the oil subsidy in
February.

“Pak Lah owes all of us an explanation. On the surface, it looks like his
son may directly gain from the fuel price hike. He cannot say that he knows
nothing about his son’s company. If you don’t know what your son is doing,
how can you manage a state?” asked Husam.

“Further PNSB is 100-percent owned by the government. Surely he knows which
companies are bidding for a project. I don’t think Pak Lah can claim
ignorance. He must be bold and give the nation an explanation about the two
projects said to involve Scomi.”

Why transportation?

Husam, who is also the Kijang state assemblyman and PAS Kelantan deputy
commissioner, further questioned the premier’s decision to allocate the
RM4.4 billion savings solely for public transportation.

"Why not other nation-building projects like education and health, which
will benefit everyone irrespective of age, race or location? Putting the
savings into transport is discriminatory in terms of location.

“How will this help people in remote areas in Sarawak and Kelantan? They don
't have LRT, monorail or Rapid KL (bus service). Some only move around in
sampan (small boats).”

He said the savings must be divided equally among all citizens who are
bearing the brunt of the fuel price hike.

If the government is genuinely concerned about improving public transport,
he said, it could always get national oil company Petronas to invest
directly in PNSB as it was set up to consolidate the assets of several
public transport operators.

"Such a directive would not be new. If you can direct Petronas to fund
mega-projects like Putrajaya and the Twin Towers, I don’t see why it can’t
be told to do the same for public transportation.

“Why burden the people? The explanations given to date (for reduction of the
fuel subsidy) are unreasonable.”

Husam agreed with the vocal protests against the fuel price hike, stating
that the government would not have gone into the red even if it had
maintained the subsidy.

Referring to the Budget Report for 2006, he said the government’s revenue
from petroleum-related activities has steadily increased since 2000. (See
chart)


Estimated tax and non tax revenue from petroleum

        2002            2003            2004            2005

2006
[RM million] [RM million] [RM million] [RM million] [RM million]

estimated
Income 7,334 8,995 11,479 14,800 17,694
tax

Export 788 959 1,539 2,013 2,412
duties
[crude oil]

Petroleum 1,696 2,141 2,498 3,293 3,818
& gas
royalty

Petronas 5,600 5,600 9,100 11,000 16,000
dividends

Total 15,418 17,635 24,616 31,106 39,924

Source: Page 10 and 15 of the 2006 budget report


“Last year, it received RM31.12 billion from taxes, excise duties, royalties
and dividends from petroleum-related activities. This would mean that even
if the government spent the RM16.6 billion needed to subsidise petrol price,
it still has RM15 billion to spend - some of which can be chanelled to
transportation,” he said.

Back to Square One

Even the projected revenue for this year show that the government will gain
a thumping RM39.92 billion. which is RM8 billion more than last year.

Returning to Scomi’s perceived involvement in public transportation
projects, Husam said the situation is similar to those under the
administration of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"Pak Lah claimed that he would create reform and bring about changes. But
now it is back to Square One…if not worse. On issues like this, Dr
Mahathir was better as he would have responded to enquiries. Whether we like
his answer or not, is another issue but he would have responded.

“Now we see all these developments but there is not a word from Pak Lah. He
prefers to claim ignorance. If this continues, Pak Lah will no longer have
the moral leadership that he and his people had claimed when they came into
power.”

Abdullah had pledged to create a climate for greater transparency and
accountability in administration when he took over as prime minister in
November 2003.