The Cheat Minister and the tunnel thieves

“Part of the deal was for certain DAP politicians to receive kickbacks along with some guys at the SPV and those from the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce. But in 2008, Guan Eng told The Star that his government was the first in the country to be founded on CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency) principles. From the looks of it, his cat, which had some litters along the way, has just about had enough of his bullsxxt and is finally crawling out together with her kittens from his scandal-laden bag”

THE THIRD FORCE

There has never been a Chief Minister in Malaysian history who has told as many lies as Lim Guan Eng has in a span of just five years. Gone are the days when the Chinese regarded the son of Lim Kit Siang as principled and a firm administrator who played it by the book. Today, the word in town is that the Chief Minister, seen clutching the straws as he’s crushed by the might of his own lies, is so corrupt, the bulk of Chinese will never vote the DAP ever again even if he were to come clean on his crimes.

Ironically, this is the man who, on his hundredth day in office, told The Star that the previous Barisan Nasional government under Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon was frightened that details of an alleged land scam deal would spill into the open. “They refuse to even see me and talk about it,” he said of the nonexistent scandal before the conversation shifted to megaprojects.

And this is where it gets interesting.

According to him, his administration was seeking ways to alleviate traffic congestion in the state at a cost that was minimal to the people. In the months that followed, two of his EXCOs – Padang Kota assemblyman Chow Kon Yeow and Bagan Jermal rep Lim Hock Seng – proposed the establishment of a Penang Transport Council (PTC) with the stated intent of “improving transportation in the state of Penang.”

Their proposal was met with approval by the state Executive Council before being ratified on the 27th of May 2009. Pursuant to its terms, the appointment of council members by the PTC chairman was contingent upon the consent of the Chief Minister, who, on the 14th of June 2016, undertook to rope P. Ramasamy and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) Heritage and Tourism spokesperson Michael Geh Thuan Peng into the picture.

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Current members of the PTC comprise almost the entire composition of the state’s Executive Council along with representatives from local governments and so-called experts in transport planning. Key among these people are Kon Yeow and Hock Seng who, ironically, just just can’t seem to agree on cost structures associated with the RM6.3 billion Penang Undersea Tunnel project.

Yet, they’re the ones who came up with the idea of a masterplan to “ease traffic congestion in the state.” Guan Eng conveniently ‘backed’ the idea by insisting that such a plan was needed as transportation in the country had become “terribly uncoordinated.” Latching on to that premise, he quickly delegated PTC the task of ‘advising’ the state on ways to resolve it’s traffic woes.

That effectively gave him, Kon Yeow and Hock Seng a free pass to draft the entire Penang Transportation Masterplan (TMP) before turning the finalized version into an official state document. The entire process from conception to ratification (on the 23rd of March 2013) was basically Guan Eng, Kon Yeow and Hock Seng ‘advising’ themselves on ways to resolve the state’s traffic woes with the ‘backing’ of the state government.

The TMP then became the excuse with which the Chief Minister rerouted all traffic in the Pulau Tikus area in ways that channeled business to Dato’ Seri Khor Teng Tong’s prized accomplishment, the Gurney Paragon Mall. Accordingly, he turned Jalan Kelawei, Jalan Gottlieb, Jalan Bagan Jermal and Persiaran Gurney into one-way streets before getting the council to remove almost a hundred parking lots situated along them. The removal of these lots greatly inconvenienced the public and forced motorists to park their vehicles in the luxurious Beverly-Hill styled Gurney Paragon.

The traffic rationalisation exercise, as it came to be known, created bottlenecks around the Penang High Court area and served only to worsen traffic congestion in Padang Kota. But the people of Penang were told that the move was complimentary to the construction of a 4.075km bypass that would link Gurney Drive to the existing Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

The construction of that highway along with two others linking Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km) and Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km) was awarded to Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Guan Eng insisted was financially backed by a Chinese construction giant, China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd (CRCC). Then, on the 4h of March 2013, the state government announced the awarding of the highway projects along with the construction of an undersea tunnel to the SPV at a total cost of RM6.3 billion, the highest ever on a ringgit-to-km scale in Malaysian history.

The announcement was made via the Penang-run Buletin Mutiara by the state secretary himself who, on that very day, disclosed that the SPV was “selected (in the open tender) based on the evaluation of the financial and technical strength of the CRCC and BUCG.” However, CRCC has since come out to deny that it ever was a shareholder of or developer for the SPV, meaning, Guan Eng lied about the Chinese firm’s RM4 billion paid-up capital being a determinant when the state assessed the SPV’s financial strength.

The construction of the three paired roads has yet to see the light of day. Despite this, the SPV was paid a total of RM208.75 million via two land-swap deals, the last payment having been made on the 22nd of March 2017. Then, on the 11th of February 2018, Malaysians were shocked to learn that CRCC had long ceased work since it was only paid a little over RM3 million of the promised RM69 million. The disclosure immediately brought to question the parcels worth RM73 million that the state government transferred to the SPV on the 22nd of March 2017.

Acres and acres of land belonging to Penangites virtually donated overnight, and yet, traffic congestion in the state is at its worst ever. There is no truth to the notion that the Pulau Tikus traffic rationalisation exercise was to compliment the construction of three paired roads linking to an undersea tunnel. The whole project was nothing but a smokescreen to mask a massive land scam deal involving the construction of luxury high-rises by crony-developers.

Part of the deal was for certain DAP politicians to receive kickbacks along with some guys at the SPV and those from the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce. But in 2008, Guan Eng told The Star that his government was the first in the country to be founded on CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency) principles. From the looks of it, his cat, which had some litters along the way, has just about had enough of his bullsxxt and is finally crawling out together with her kittens from his scandal-laden bag.

And to think he threatened to expose a Barisan land scam in 2008…

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