Go ahead, lodge report on Labuan Port office in KL, dares MCA candidate

Wee Jeck Seng says other companies besides the Labuan Port Authority also had offices in Kuala Lumpur (Bernama pic)

PONTIAN: MCA Tanjung Piai by-election candidate Wee Jeck Seng said he welcomes anyone, including DAP members, to file a police report against him for alleged bribery or abuse of power over the RM500,000 in rental payments by the Labuan Port Authority (LPA).

Wee, a former chairman of LPA, said having an office in Kuala Lumpur was convenient for businesses and firms such as the port authority to meet potential clients and investors.

He said other companies besides the LPA also had offices in Kuala Lumpur.

Wee said if Wong Kwan Kit, DAP’s Victoria Utara branch chairman in Labuan, had done some research, he would not be overreacting.

He also said Pakatan Harapan members were throwing accusations against him but did not produce any evidence of alleged wrongdoing when campaigning.

“Take the matter to the authorities and I will be happy to assist in any investigation,” he said.

Earlier, Wong had quoted the Auditor-General’s Report on LPA’s financial statement ending Dec 31 last year, which showed that 3,069 sq ft of office space was rented by the LPA at Menara UOA in Bangsar for RM14,634.36 a month for three years, without any sign of activity and that even office equipment and furniture were not to be seen.

“The auditor-general reported that such action could not be justified, and as a result, there is a wastage of public funds amounting to RM526,836.96.

“Why was there a need for such an expensive and huge office space in KL, which is 1,500km away from Labuan?” he asked.

Wong said there was already existing office space for the LPA at the Marine Department’s building in Labuan.

Earlier, MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er said there was nothing wrong in the LPA renting office space in Kuala Lumpur.

Chan said that after the LPA was separated by the BN government in 2016, it needed a small office in Kuala Lumpur to facilitate trade and handle promotional and regulatory matters.

“I am not sure why Wong thinks that a 3,000 sq ft office in Kuala Lumpur is considered very big and very wasteful, but I would like to highlight that many other port operators and shipping companies have offices in Kuala Lumpur, too.

“Westports in Port Klang has an office at Mont Kiara. Similarly, the port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor has an office at Menara TH Perdana on Jalan Sultan Ismail, KL.

“It cannot be disputed that KL remains the commerce, regulatory and financial centre of Malaysia,” she said.

It was for the same reason, she said, that the Labuan Financial Services Authority had an office at KL Sentral, which was close to the LPA office.

Chan noted that DAP leader Ong Kian Ming had given a similar reason when the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng decided to open an office for the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur.

On claims that the renovation work on the LPA’s office began after its three-year lease commenced and that it was taking a long time to complete, she said that operational matters were under the LPA’s general manager and not Wee.

“Any decision must be approved by the board of the LPA and not unilaterally decided by the board chairman,” she said.

Previously, Wee had been linked to the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) system and road charge (RC) issue. The contract was awarded without an open tender in 2015 by then transport minister and MCA president Liow Tiong Lai to a company in which Wee was a major shareholder at that time.

The VEP is a permit issued by the Road Transport Department allowing the entry of foreign vehicles into Malaysia. The road charge is a RM20 fee imposed on all foreign-registered private vehicles which enter Malaysia, excluding motorcycles.

The audit report also said the VEP system had failed to recognise the plate numbers of 0.07% of vehicles, leading to RM17,100 in losses.

Wee had denied accusations of corruption linked to the VEP system at the Malaysia-Singapore border. He was summoned to testify at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Sept 3, and the bi-partisan parliamentary committee’s investigation is still ongoing.