Liong Sik is not only a "hands-off" but also a "minds-off" Minister from the litany of ineptitudes under the Transport Ministry, whether failure of Ops Statik IV or the 18-month cargo handling mess at KLIA

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Thursday): Yesterday, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi what disciplinary action would be taken against the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lidng  Liong Sik in being the first Cabinet Minister to disregard the 14-point directive given by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the first meeting of the new Cabinet on Dec. 15, 1999 that Cabinet Ministers should  carry out their duties with collective responsibility, loyalty, efficiency and dedication and be "hands-on" in their work.

However, Liong Sik has shown that he is not "hands-on" but "hands-off" Minister in his utter indifference to the 73 road deaths in six days of "Ops Statik IV", when he should  be the Cabinet Minister who should be most concerned about the death toll  on our roads.

Liong Sik does not seem alarmed  or anyway concerned at  the daily death toll since the  launch of Ops Statik IV   last Thursday (eight), Friday (12), Saturday (10), Sunday (21), Monday (15) and Tuesday (seven).

Nobody wants to start calling on a Minister to resign after just being  sworn in after the general election on Nov. 29, but in the interests of the people and nation, the Prime Minister should remove Liong Sik from the Transport Ministry and put in someone  with a fresh mind, greater imagination  and more commitment to his Ministerial responsibilities.

This is especially urgent as it is now evident that  Liong Sik is not only a "hands-off" Minister, he is also a "minds-off" Minister from the litany of ineptitudes under the Transport Ministry, whether the failure of Ops Statik IV or the 18-month cargo handling mess at the RM9 billion Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Liong Sik’s "hands-off" and "minds-off" Ministerial attitude is most apparent in  another scandal falling under the jurisdiction of the Transport Ministry  -  the long-standing unresolved problem with cargo handling at KLIA’s MAS Advanced Cargo Centre (ACC).

Despite the ACC being operational for 18 months, numerous  problems have not been resolved despite several meetings between the  parties concerned.

The Malaysian National Shippers Council (MNSC) and Airfreight Forwarders Association of Malaysia (AFAM) said in a joint statement yesterday that they still received complaints faced by shippers, consignees and forwarders since the ACC started operations at the KLIA Cargo Village.

Among the complaints were delays, missing, damaged, misplaced, no  location, pilferage, incomplete shipments, updated information on cargo  status not being provided for both inbound and outbound and cargo for  exports which were booked but not being uplifted and missing.

The MNSC and AFAM had three meetings since May 1999 with MAS to discuss these problems and had proposed measures to resolve them.

Although MAS had requested that they be given till  December 1999 to iron out all these problems,  until today all the above issues have not been resolved.

Both associations had offered to co-operate  with the government in monitoring the condition at the cargo centre to make it a success, as aircargo was  essential to the just-in-time and high value cargo.

What is noteworthy is that  the ACC and the Hong Kong Aircargo Terminal (HACTL) have similar cargo clearance systems in place.

They were launched almost at the same time and faced similar cargo  clearance problems at the initial stages.

However, HACTL took only  six weeks to resolve their problems but ACC, after 18 months (79 weeks) in  operation, has not successfully resolved its problems.

Where was  Liong Sik all this time?  If he had not been "hands-off" and "minds-off", he should have ensured that  MAS would have taken the necessary and urgent remedial action to resolve the problems faced by shippers, consignees and  forwarders, including responding positively to the proposals by the associations for the reintroduction of  some standard operating procedures and service standards as practised both internationally and at  the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport at Subang.

Why didn’t Liong Sik act on the following proposals by the asssociations:

In his "hands-off" and "minds-off" attitude, Liong Sik is failing the nation in making the  RM9 billion KLIA  a "white elephant" in being  unable to provide  better service competitive to the Singapore and Hong Kong  airports or other airports around the world.

As a result, Malaysia is suffering cargo loss to  the Singapore International Airport following the problems in KLIA ACC, with the  amount in the region of  a couple of million ringgit, as it has been  estimated that 100 tonnes of cargo were shipped to Singapore a  day ranging from RM600,000 to RM800,000 per day.

It is time that Liong Sik end his "hands-off" and "minds-off’ attitude to resolve the multiplicity of problems under the Transport Ministry, or he should ask the Prime Minister to shift him to another Ministry, exchanging portfolio with one of the other three MCA Ministers, namely Housing and Local Government, Health and Human Resources.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman