TTF: Lim Guan Eng lies through his teeth every time he opens his mouth to talk about the multibillion Penang Undersea Tunnel project. Having been cornered by truth seekers, the Chief Minister is resorting to diversion tactics, this time, by accusing Barisan National of sabotaging the project. On the 20th of January 2017, he implied that the ruling coalition had deliberately detained persons associated with Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC) to deny Penangites the right to better transportation.
“Of course we do not know what will happen as the main people in Zenith have been detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“We will see whether BN will succeed in sabotaging the project,” he said.
I found these statements a tad too peculiar.
The reason being, the granting of the RM6.3 billion award to Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG) was first announced by the state secretary of Penang on the 4th of March 2013. Seven months later, the state government signed a preliminary agreement with the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company along with China Railway Construction Corporation International (CRCC) and China’s Beijing Urban construction Group (BUCG) to undertake feasibility studies and detailed design works (FSDD) related to the project.
Then, on the 8th of October 2013, the SPV company undertook to sign a contract with the state government to construct the undersea tunnel and three road bypasses off Gurney Drive. That’s close to three and a half years since the administration of Lim Guan Eng inked a formal agreement with CZBUCG to provide the people of Penang with ‘better’ transportation.
Yet, the much hyped construction of three paired roads has not even begun. The last I checked, the detention of persons associated with Zenith – however remote that association may have been – only happened sometime this month and not in October 2013 or anywhere in between. So how could the MACC or even Barisan have had anything to do with the delays in construction of the roads when CZC was free as a bird to do as it wished all this while?
It appears that the Chief Minister is attempting to shift conversations away from what the chairman of the SPV (or CZBUCG) said on the 15th of June 2016. On that day, Dato’ Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli came out in the flesh and blood to announce that the construction of the three highways was yet to begin as the state government had yet to appoint an environmental consultant to look into the project and seek approval from the Department of Environment (DoE).
Can Guan Eng please verify this?
Can he confirm if it was a blunder on his part that led to delays in construction or if something illegitimate was going on behind the scenes? And while he’s at it, I wonder if he could do us all a favour by explaining why anyone would ever dream of sabotaging him or anything related to the project when he and his men are doing a hell of a good job sabotaging themselves?
Well then, consider this:
When Zarul spoke to newsmen on the 15th of June 2016, he pointed out that the SPV had “completed RM220 million worth of works for the three major roads and had received one parcel of state land (spanning 3.67 acres) worth RM135 million.” The SPV chairman further noted that the transfer of the parcel meant ‘some RM100 million’ had yet to be settled by the state government.
To understand where the ‘RM100 million’ estimate fits in, one needs to first examine the total cost involved in completing the various studies and designs associated with the overall project, the breakdown of which is as follows:
Three main roads:
Feasibility study: RM31.2 million
Detailed design: RM177.4 million
Overall: RM208.7 million
Feasibility study: RM20 million
Detailed design: RM76.2 million
Grand Total: RM304.9 million
Now, assuming Zarul’s estimates were legit, one immediately sees how the state government still owed the SPV RM73.7 million for studies and designs related to the paired roads and RM2o million for studies related to the tunnel itself. However, the debt was ‘written-off’ the minute Guan Eng decided to open his mouth. On the 17th of January 2018, the Chief Minister announced that the state government had settled payments worth RM208 million via the same 3.67-acre land-swap deal Zarul spoke of, meaning, the SPV chairman’s estimates no longer applied.
Under the circumstances, the state government effectively paid costs associated with the paired roads and only ‘owed’ RM20 million for studies related to the tunnel. The fact that Zarul did not have anything to say about this supports the idea that the Chief Minister was telling us the truth. But it is what Guan Eng said a week earlier that had everyone up in arms.
On the 11th of January 2018, the Chief Minister told newsmen that the state had “not paid a single sen” for feasibility studies related to the tunnel.
“We only swapped two pieces of land with the development value of RM1,300 psf for 3.7 acres of land which comes up to RM208 million,” he told a press conference at his office that day.
But his exco seemed to think differently.
Payment to Consortium Zenith: RM208.75 million
Payment to independent consultant: RM11.23 million
Overall: RM219.99 million
Then, on the 2nd of November 2017, a state assembly sitting was told that RM11.23 million was paid in cash to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd, an independent consultant hired by the state government to evaluate the tunnel project. But wasn’t it Guan Eng who announced that the state had “not paid a single sen” for feasibility studies related to the tunnel?
If so, then, was the payment to HSS for?
Do you now see why there isn’t a need for anyone to sabotage anything? From the way things are going, Lim Guan Eng is doing a hell of a job sabotaging himself, and in the process, the RM6.3 billion tunnel project which nobody really needs!
News item by NST Online:
PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has not ruled out the possibility of more arrests, even as they call in more people for questioning in the probe of the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said today more witnesses would be called in to assist investigations.
However, he said he did not want to speculate who was so far involved in the case.
It was reported last week that several politicians were believed to have received a significant amount of money in the approval process for the project.
Quoting sources, the report said the high amount was given as kickbacks.
“I’m not naming any politician or any individual. Investigations are still going on and it will take a long time to complete. I can’t tell when we will be able to conclude the investigation,” said Azam after the official retirement ceremony of MACC deputy chief commissioner (management and professionalism) Datuk Seri Mohd Jamidan Abdullah today.
MACC officers have so far recorded statements from 76 people in the course of the investigations.
The 7.2km undersea tunnel is part of a RM6.3 billion project, undertaken by Consortium Zenith, which also includes three paired roads.
The project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of its RM305 million feasibility study, as well as the 21-month delay in its construction.
Two company officials, with the title Datuk, were detained on Jan 9 and later released on bail after 10 days.
On accusations by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng that MACC was practising double standards by not taking action against the leaks of information about purported kickbacks involved in the project, Azam said the commission was professional in carrying out its job.
“We will look into all angles of the information we receive from media. Not all information will be true. We have our own way to assess and filter information,” he added.
When asked about the decision by Pas not to seek MACC’s help in vetting its candidates for the upcoming general election, Azam said it was up to the party.
Source: NST Online