The Penang Undersea Tunnel: The mysterious payment to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd

TTF: On Tuesday, the 16th of January 2017, Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow made public a glaring mismatch that existed in the information the state government provided regarding the Penang undersea tunnel project. The very next day, the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, dared Teng to name him directly and not “hide or run” by accusing the state government.

“(Teng should) courageously say that I lied when I said the Penang state government had not paid a single sen for the undersea tunnel and roads, so that I can take Teng to court to prove who is telling the truth,” Guan Eng was reported by Free Malaysia Today as saying.

Now, I found that threat rather strange.

The reason being, if Guan Eng was not personally responsible for the mismatch, why did he dare Teng to name him? Why did he not instead get the responsible party from his administration to either own up or to counter Teng’s allegations? Is this not your typical “siapa makan cili, dia rasa pedas” case? 

The proportion to which Guan Eng and his excos lie through their teeth isn’t just absurd, it’s appalling. They keep coming up with these incredible claims that they expect everyone to believe. The problem is, the figures are not adding up.

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. Yet, on the 11th of January 2018, Guan Eng told newsmen that the state had “not paid a single sen” for feasibility studies related to the RM6.3 billion project.

“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.

So what was the RM11.23 million to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd for?

To better appreciate why something is amiss, one needs to first examine the cost breakdown for feasibility studies and designs related to the overall project, which is as follows:

Three main roads:
Feasibility study: RM31.2 million
Detailed design: RM177.4 million
Overall: RM208.7 million (the amount Guan Eng says was paid via land swap)

Undersea tunnel:
Feasibility study: RM20 million (Guan Eng says not a single sen has been paid)
Detailed design: RM76.2 million
Overall: RM96.2million

Grand Total: RM304.9 million

Then, on the 22nd of May 2017, Penang state Public Works Committee Chairman Lim Hock Seng told an assembly sitting that a total of RM219.99 million had been paid exclusive of the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA), the breakdown of which is as follows:

Payments made (According to Lim Hock Seng on 22/5/2017):
Payment to Consortium Zenith : RM208.75 million (cost for the three main roads, fully paid)
Payment to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd: RM11.23 million (what was this for???)
Overall: RM219.99 million

Total still owed: RM85 million

Get the picture?

On the one hand, we have the Chief Minister telling us that “not a single sen” was paid for feasibility studies related to the tunnel itself, while on the other, we have Hock Seng declaring that the RM11.23 million paid to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd came atop the RM208.7 million paid for studies and designs related to the construction of the three paired roads.

So what was the RM11.23 million for? Was it for entertainment, or was HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd the channel through which kickbacks were arranged?

Someone is telling us a big fat lie, and from the looks of it, that ‘someone’ is none other than the Chief Minister himself. It is highly likely that the payment to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd had something very sinister attached to it, something Guan Eng does not want you and me to discover. Does that not go a long way to explain just why he was so upset with Teng Chang Yeow?

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George Town: The back and forth accusations on the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project comes to a head today as Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng decided to sue each other.

Teng told a press conference today that he will consult his lawyers on Lim’s accusations against him.

“I will take him to court for calling me a liar when I raised issues on the undersea tunnel project based on statements he issued and what was revealed at the legislative assembly,” the Penang Gerakan chairman said.

Teng said this is the first time in his political career he is considering to take another politician to court for defamation.

“He accused me of lying in revealing discrepancies in the project when my statements were based on information obtained from the legislative assembly and his own statements.

“I shall repeat what I’ve said, the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, lied in his reply to questions on the three highways which formed part of the undersea tunnel project unless he proves that all the documents I produced in support of my arguments are fake and fabricated,” he said.

Teng then reiterated several points on the undersea tunnel and three highways project.

He insisted that the state paid RM11.2 million in cash to a technical consultant, HSSI Sdn Bhd, appointed by the state government to review and certify the claims submitted by the undersea tunnel contractor Consortium Zenith which meant Lim had lied about not paying a single sen for the undersea tunnel project.

He then furnished copies of Lim’s statements and extracts from replies submitted at the legislative assembly to prove his point.

Last week, Lim said the state did not pay a single sen for the undersea tunnel component of the massive project that also included the construction of three highways.

He said the state only paid RM208 million by way of land swap for work done on the three highways and not the undersea tunnel.

In an immediate response today, Lim said he will take Teng to court for accusing him of lying about the undersea tunnel project.

“He accused me of lying when I said the state did not pay a single sen for the undersea tunnel so I will take him to court and prove this,” he said.

He had instructed his lawyers to draft a legal notice to Teng on this.

This will be the second time that Lim took legal action against Teng as he had sued Teng in 2016 over the latter’s allegations into the Pulau Jerejak land sale. The case is still pending in court.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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