Malaysia

Pua says MOT cannot wash hands of KLIA2 move

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Ministry of Transport (MOT) cannot “disclaim” responsibility in the relocation of the site of KLIA2 as its officials are “fully represented” on the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) board of directors, Tony Pua said today.

The DAP national publicity secretary hit out at Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha for saying the decision to shift sites was made entirely by MAHB and did not involve his ministry.

“The minister cannot disclaim responsibility because the Ministry of Transport is fully represented in the board of directors of MAHB by none other than its secretary-general Datuk Long See Wool. He is also joined by Dyg Sadiah binti Abg Bohan, who is the private secretary to the Second Finance Minister.

“Their roles are undoubtedly to check, monitor and regulate the decisions of MAHB on behalf of their respective ministries,” Pua (picture) said in a statement.

He said MOT, as the regulating agency for airports and the aviation industry, must find out why MAHB was allowed to shift the site of the airport from KLIA North to KLIA West which has resulted in massive cost overruns.

Pua urged Kong to take action against ministry officials who had signed off on the move without realising its cost implications.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP has alleged that the decision to relocate the low-cost carrier terminal from KLIA North to its present site in KLIA West had caused construction costs to nearly double to RM3.9 billion, with an estimated RM1.2 billion spent on earthworks alone.

He said this was because the soil in KLIA West had “poor bearing qualities and is not suitable for airport construction without undertaking significant engineering measures”, as noted in the 1992 KLIA Master Plan.

He also claimed that MAHB had failed to inform government officials that siting the terminal there would push up construction costs significantly, and called for action to be taken against the airport operator’s top management.

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who was transport minister when the move was first mooted in April 2008, has backed Pua’s claims that MAHB made no mention of unsuitable soil conditions in KLIA West when proposing the new site.

MAHB has denied withholding crucial information from government officials, stressing that the terminal was only shifted to its current location upon approval from all stakeholders.

But Kong has said that Pua could refer the matter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) if he was unhappy about KLIA2’s inflated cost.

“While Datuk Seri Kong need not worry that I do not make a request for the PAC to look into the scandal, at the end of the day it has to be the Ministry of Transport who is answerable and to take the necessary actions,” said Pua.

MAHB had previously said that KLIA2’s inflated cost, which has nearly doubled to RM3.9 billion from RM2 billion, was due to its decision to increase the terminal’s capacity to 45 million passengers per annum from 30 million.

This was done to accommodate budget carrier AirAsia’s projections that 45.3 million passengers would be using the new low-cost carrier terminal by 2020, it said.

The airport operator also blamed the latest six-month delay to a change in baggage handling system (BHS), which it said had been requested by AirAsia.

But AirAsia has denied asking for a more powerful BHS or a larger terminal, noting that it had only asked MAHB to ensure KLIA2 could be expanded if needed.

KLIA2 will be the world’s largest low-cost carrier terminal when it is completed in April 2013.

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