Khalid orders probe into cronyism claims against PKNS

SHAH ALAM, Nov 10 — Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has instructed auditors at the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) to investigate allegations of cronyism against the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).

At the Selangor state assembly yesterday, Hulu Klang assemblyman Saari Sungib had claimed that PKNS’s management was riddled with cronyism, and that the corporation had funded a RM520,000 wedding dinner for Malaysian astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.

“We have already set up a professional audit committee at MBI. I have ordered the audit to function now and asked them to conduct an investigation,” Khalid told The Malaysian Insider today.

“PKNS already has an integrity pact,” he added.

The integrity pact empowers external auditors to investigate claims of misappropriation or corruption, Khalid explained.

MBI is the parent company of all Selangor state subsidiaries.

Earlier today, PAS Selangor had called on Khalid to investigate Saari’s accusations.

“PAS Selangor demands that all responsible parties, especially the Selangor mentri besar, to immediately investigate and obtain information on the validity of the allegations. As a party that respects transparency, honesty and responsibility, PAS Selangor is stunned with the facts brought up by the Hulu Klang assemblyman,” PAS Selangor deputy commissioner Dr Che Rosli Che Mat told reporters at the sidelines of the state assembly today.

Yesterday, Saari claimed that the PKNS management appointed personal contacts to lead PKNS subsidiaries.

“There is perception among certain PKNS members that the PKNS management appoints known associates to work at PKNS and to lead PKNS subsidiaries that are developed,” said Saari.

He further claimed that there was a marked disparity in pay between contract officers and senior officers.

“The wide salary difference between contract officers and right-hand officers have caused PKNS members to be dissatisfied,” said the Hulu Klang assemblyman.

“The perception of PKNS members has become more negative towards the PKNS leadership when all contract officers are placed under one subsidiary, PKNS Holdings, with large salaries. Hulu Klang (assemblyman) requests that this perception [be] explained by the state government so that perceptions of cronyism in the management and leadership of a state-owned company will not arise,” he added.

He then revealed that the monthly salaries of certain contract officers ranged from RM10,000 to RM24,000.

Saari also alleged that PKNS’s costs of shifting to a temporary office as well as its new permanent office, the rent for both offices, and the cost of its corporate office renovations exceeded RM15 million in total.

“PKNS had to rent another building because its new corporate office had yet to be constructed. This caused costs to escalate because they have to shift twice. First from their current building to the transit building, and second from their transit building to their permanent building… the total cost is RM15,785,552,” said Saari.

“PKNS leadership also apparently agreed to fund the wedding dinner of the astronaut that cost RM520,000, where astronauts from all over the world came to Datuk Sheikh Muszaphar’s wedding,” he added.

Today, Khalid said that he had given the professional audit committee two weeks to investigate Saari’s allegations.

When asked if he would refer the matter to the Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat), Khalid answered: “If needed, we will. If we find there is no need, we won’t. We’ll do all this when we get results from our professional audit committee.”

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