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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TI-M chief Paul Low resigns over corruption index report

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Datuk Paul Low, who leads a task force investigating the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, has resigned immediately as president of Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) over the Global Corruption Report 2009 (GCR 2009) which had highlighted the case.

Low (picture) said he accepted full responsibility for releasing the GCR 2009 report, which TI-M said had garnered different interpretations and views including attacks of conflict of interest.

"Datuk Paul Low accepts full and sole responsibility for the release of the Malaysian Chapter in the GCR 2009," organisation secretary Dr Loi Kheng Min said in a statement.

Loi noted that the full report had not been shared with the rest of the council members, who wanted a chance to review it before it was publicised.

Low’s sudden decision to quit surprised the rest of the council, he added.

“He asked me to prepare a statement about 12 noon today. Before this, he did not indicate he was going to resign,” Loi told The Malaysian Insider over the phone this evening.

Loi said TI-M's deputy president Datuk Mohamed Iqbal has been named as acting president.

Low could not be reached for comment.

Loi said TI-M's deputy president Datuk Mohamed Iqbal has been named as acting president.

When releasing the report, Low had said the PKFZ scandal would be a positive challenge to revamp and ensure more transparency in the country's system.

"PKFZ is a black mark on the country's history, but coming out from that would be a positive challenge to revamp ourselves.

"I hope what happened in PKFZ would be a good example of what should be done for the other agencies and government-linked agencies. We cannot afford to waste our resources," said Low, who is also the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Administration and Corporate Governance, a committee set up to probe the administrative and governance practices of PKFZ.

Calling it one of the biggest scandals of the year, Low said the committee was now looking for three independent non-executive directors to sit on the board. The committee is expected to have until January 2010 to complete its task.

But PKFZ contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd's (KDSB) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said days later he planned to sue Low for the PKFZ references in the GCR 2009.

He said the report was “irresponsible” as its corruption index assessment of Malaysia's private sector was only based on media reports, particularly on the PKFZ issue.

Tiong, who is also Bintulu MP and BN Backbenchers Club chairman, questioned Low's credibility in making his statement, saying he was TI-M president as well as PKFZ task force ad hoc committee chairman and a vice-president of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.

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