PETALING JAYA: The chairman of the Labuan Port Authority (LPA), Chan Foong Hin, today accused his predecessor Wee Jeck Seng of wasting public funds during his tenure as LPA chairman.
Chan’s salvo comes as polling day for the Tanjung Piai by-election draws closer. Wee is the Barisan Nasional candidate in the by-election while Chan is a DAP leader and MP for Kota Kinabalu. Voters in the parliamentary constituency go to the polls on Nov 16.
This will put extra pressure on Wee, who is already under attack over the rental of office space for LPA in Kuala Lumpur, among other issues.
In a statement today, Chan said: “Wee Jeck Seng is unrepentant and claims that there is nothing wrong with LPA under his then-chairmanship having rented a huge grade A office in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur for RM14,634.36 a month for three years from 2017.
“Wee’s decision was extravagant and a reckless use of public funds as LPA had not started to generate any income yet.”
He said instead of focusing on LPA’s role, Wee chose to spend RM343,180.50 just on renovating the 3000 sq feet Bangsar office.
“When I took over as LPA chairman from Wee, LPA was in bad financial state. One of the first things which I noticed was the unnecessary and wasteful spending of LPA funds, including the rental of three units of office at Level 22 in Menara UOA Bangsar for three years for a total rental of RM526,836.96.
“I was unable to utilise this office after my appointment because it was an empty office, with no furniture or staff. Because of what Wee did, we are unable to terminate the contract as LPA is bound by the tenancy agreement until April 14, 2020.”
Chan said Wee could have done many things but instead “decided to put the renovation of the office at Menara UOA Bangsar as his highest priority”.
He asked: “Is the renovation of the office and installation of an auto/smart toilet bowl more important than the gazetting of by-laws and appointment of a port operator?”
LPA, he said, was trying to sublease the Bangsar office suites to cover the rental and renovation costs.
Victoria Utara DAP chief Wong Kwan Kit earlier asked Wee to explain why LPA under him had to rent office suites in Kuala Lumpur when its primary business was in Borneo.
Wong 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 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.
In reply yesterday, Wee said that like other companies with offices in Kuala Lumpur, LPA’s Bangsar office was necessary for meet-ups with potential clients and investors. He also welcomed anyone to lodge a police report if they found his past actions questionable.