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Monday, November 29, 2021

No 'big blunder' in Penang tunnel project agreement: Former lawyer

A High Court judicial commissioner today testified that there was no “big blunder” in the contents of the preliminary agreement signed between the Penang government and a company linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

Adlin Abdul Majid told the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court that there was no such “big blunder” when the then-lawyer helped in preparing the agreement for the privatisation of major roads and the undersea tunnel project in Penang.

The judicial commissioner of the High Court in Kuala Lumpur was testifying during today’s trial of the Penang Undersea Tunnel project corruption case against former finance minister Lim Guan Eng.

Thirteenth prosecution witness Adlin was testifying over a previous testimony by former Penang state legal adviser Faiza Zulkifli, who had contended that there was a “huge mistake” in the preliminary agreement.

In the previous proceedings on Nov 12, the 11th prosecution witness Faiza testified that she did not check the draft of the agreement as then Penang chief minister Lim had appointed a private law firm, Lee Hishamuddin Allen & Gledhill, to evaluate the preliminary agreement.

Greenlight obtained

During the trial presided by judge Azura Alwi, Adlin testified she was a then partner of the law firm involved in helping out with the draft agreement.

The former lawyer said that the draft preliminary agreement was brought before the Penang state executive council meeting on Oct 4, 2013, whereby Faiza was present.

During cross-examination by Lim's counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Adlin testified that the draft agreement had already been presented to the state exco, their greenlight obtained, as well as their agreement for certain amendments to be made to the agreement.

She noted that Faiza did not raise any objection during the exco meeting regarding the agreement.

Gobind: My learned friend (the prosecutor) said there was a “big blunder” in the agreement. Do you know of any big blunder in the agreement?

Adlin: No.

Gobind: PUU (state legal adviser Faiza) said there was a big blunder when referring to the paragraph (in the draft agreement). Yang Arif (Adlin), do you agree there was a big blunder in this part of the agreement?

Adlin: I do not agree.

The witness also agreed with the defence team that the state government’s interest has been protected via the agreement as it needed to pass through certain committees before the execution of the agreement.

Adlin also testified that Faiza has never informed her about any “big mistake” in the agreement then and until now, when she is no longer a lawyer but has become a judicial commissioner in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

The ongoing trial before Azura is in relation to the four graft charges against Lim.

One charge, framed under Section 16(A)(a) and Section 23 of the MACC Act, accuses him of using his position as then Penang chief minister for the gratification of RM3.3 million as inducement for helping a company belonging to Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the island state’s RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project.

Zarul is a senior executive director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, the main contractor for the undersea tunnel project.

The offence was allegedly perpetrated at the Penang Chief Minister's Office, 28th Floor, Komtar, George Town, Penang, between January 2011 and August 2017.

Under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act, the offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Two plots of land

The second charge, also under Section 16(A)(a), accused Lim, in his capacity as the then Penang chief minister, to have solicited from Zarul bribes amounting to 10 percent of the profits to be earned by the company as gratification for helping secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur, between 12.30am and 2am in March 2011.

The charge, framed under Section 16 of the MACC Act, provides for imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The DAP secretary-general also faces two counts of causing two plots of land, worth RM208.8 million and belonging to the Penang government, to be disposed off to two companies allegedly linked to the undersea tunnel project.

The two charges, framed under Section 403 of the Penal Code, carry imprisonment of up to five years, whipping and a fine.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Level 21, Komtar, between Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The proceedings before Azura will resume tomorrow morning. -Mkini

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