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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tunnel project: Guan Eng asks again, where is the corruption

The Penang chief minister says if Wee Ka Siong’s dispute is over misrepresentation of facts about the tunnel project, claims of corruption are ‘fake news’ created by the BN media.
lim-guan-eng-wee-ka-siongGEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has once again asked what exactly about the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three main roads project involves corruption.
He also charged the “BN media” of coming out with “fake news” regarding the project.
This follows the assertion by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Wee Ka Siong that Lim misrepresented the paid-up capital of a special purpose vehicle set up for the project.
Wee had claimed that despite their persistent questioning, Lim had not answered “straight to the point” as to why – from March 2013, when the successful tenderer was announced for the project, until the 13th general election was held in May 2013 – he had not clearly stated that the role of the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) was only as a building contractor.
Wee had, in a video on Facebook, claimed that Lim and the state government had misrepresented the paid-up capital of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) on the tunnel project.
Lim said in a statement: “Wee will definitely dispute that the Penang state government misrepresented the project but if Wee’s contention is the lack of clear emphasis that CRCC is the main contractor and not the shareholder, where then is the corruption involving Penang state government leaders?”
He said if this was Wee’s main contention, “then the Barisan Nasional (BN) media is involved in fake news by quoting MACC sources that there is corruption in this project or kickbacks of up to millions of ringgit to state government leaders, despite the fact that the project was granted in a transparent manner by open competitive tender”.
Lim added: “Clearly the Penang state government is a victim of systematic political lynching by both the BN and MACC to smear our image in the run-up to the 14th general election.”
Lim asked Wee if he could explain why “he lied” that the project agreement signed by the state government had not been properly stamped or that the commitment by CRCC as main contractor to complete the project was not legally binding because it was not stamped.
He was referring to Wee’s contention that the legality of the agreement signed with CRCC was suspect as it was devoid of any stamp duties.
Wee had also said it was not an agreement, but merely an “acknowledgement of commitment”, which meant that the signatories were legally not obliged to fulfil their commitments.
“There is a reason why Wee deliberately refuses to apologise for his blatant lie that the agreement was not stamped or that CRCC’s commitment to complete the project was not legally binding because it was not stamped.
“Wee is desperate to exclude CRCC because CRCC is part of the main agreement that was signed by the state government on October 29, 2013, together with Zenith Consortium. Even CRCC has issued a statement that was cited by Wee in The Star on January 20, confirming that CRCC is the main contractor for this project,” Lim said.
In other words, Lim said, it was a form of “tri-partite agreement” comprising the state government, Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd as shareholders, and CRCC as the main contractor.
Lim explained that in order to lock in CRCC as the main contractor, CRCC gave an additional commitment in the agreement to successfully complete the project – a form of double insurance.
“Locking in CRCC is important to ensure the project’s success not only in terms of financial viability but also the technical and professional expertise required for such a major project.”
Wee and Lim have been engaged in a back-and-forth over the undersea tunnel and three main roads projects, mostly centred on the issues of shareholding and the paid-up capital.
The RM6.3 billion infrastructure project came under renewed scrutiny by the BN following a fresh probe by the MACC.
The 7.2km undersea tunnel will connect George Town’s Pangkor Road and Bagan Ajam in Butterworth. It is scheduled to begin in 2023.
The “three main roads” (formerly three paired roads) stretch from Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km), Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km), and Jalan Pangkor-Gurney Drive junction to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (4.1km).
It was reported last Thursday that MACC arrested the chairman of an engineering consultancy firm, with the title “Datuk Seri”, to assist in the investigation into alleged corruption in the construction of the Penang undersea tunnel project.
Two days before that, MACC had also arrested a female engineering consultant in a Kuala Lumpur-based company to assist in the investigations and she has been remanded for five days.
On Jan 19, two individuals with the title “Datuk”, who were remanded for six days to facilitate investigations into the same case, were released on bail. -FMT

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