Dato’ Eric See To
The answers given by Penang EXCO Lim Hock Seng and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P.Ramsamy in reply to Federal Works Minister Fadillah Yusof are strange, to say the least.
Fadillah has raised serious concerns over the Penang Undersea Tunnel project and called it the most lop-sided toll concession in Malaysian history.
Lim Hock Seng claims it is not unusual that construction of a project starts 10 years after the project has been planned.
That is not what Fadillah said. There is a big difference between when a project is planned and when it was awarded.
Fadillah says it is very unusual that a project is scheduled to start construction 10 years after the project is awarded and contract signed with a private company – not 10 years after the project was signed.
Please know the difference, Lim Hock Seng.
Meanwhile, P.Ramasamy’s reply is an outright lie.
“The same argument could be reversed at Fadillah by pointing out that the construction of both the first and second Penang bridges actually began not immediately after the signing of the agreements but after a gap of nearly ten years or so.” wrote Ramasamy.
This is completely untrue.
The first Penang Bridge was built entirely by the Malaysia Highway Authority (or LLM), a govt agency – not a private company. It was completely and opened to the public in 1985 but was mysteriously taken out of govt ownership to be given and privatized to a private company by Tun Mahathir in 1993.
The Second Penang bridge agreement was again signed with wholly Ministry of Finance-owned company Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB),which was incorporated on 9 July 2008 – again, not a private company.
Construction was then started in Nov 2008
In the Penang Tunnel case, the contract was awarded to a 100% private-owned company in 2013 with construction only to start in the year 2023.
As Fadillah pointed out, not only is the Penang Govt fully paying the 100% privately-owned Tunnel SPV company to build the tunnel, it is also giving it a 30 years toll concession.
This is very different from the standard private concession arrangements having to fund the construction and then collecting tolls to recover their investment.
In the Penang Tunnel case, the private company will profit from the construction contact and on top of that, will profit again from collecting tolls for 30 years.
P.Ramasamy appears even more clueless when he said this:
“And finally, Fadillah pretends to be a good Samaritan and asks the question on why the Penang state government had not reverted to his ministry about the possibility of the third bridge project in place of the tunnel. Well, if Fadillah thinks that this is an option, why not? We are ready to talk, just give us the green light.
Fadillah did not pretend to be a good Samaritan. Fadillah is pointing out that despite multiple promises over two years from the Penang Govt, they have not given any supporting documents at all in their application to change the tunnel into a cheaper bridge.
Lim Hock Seng and P.Ramasamy should not defend the indefensible.
Additionally, P. Ramasamy should stop lying if he is unclear about the facts as it will make you look like a real joker.
Source: Eric See-To