Photo: Malay Mail Online

It has been made clear by the Chief Minister of Penang that the state government has not paid a single sen for the tunnel project that is expected to be completed few years later


By P Ramasamy

There have been serious allegations by some quarters that the Penang undersea tunnel project was a “fishy” deal involving the the pre-selling of land rights worth RM3 billion.

Due to this and other allegations in the past, the MACC raided the offices of a number of government agencies involved in the project including the arrest of two ‘Datuk’, one in Putrajaya and other in Penang.

How the figure of RM3 billion was manufactured nobody knows. It seems to be an imaginary figure coming from those who have the habit of maligning the Penang state government for reasons best know to them.

Like the proverbial Don Quixote, the MACC is more willing to imagine to fight fictitious enemies from those who have committed colossal crimes. In fighting corruption, the MACC seems more focused on the imaginary rather than the real world.

While the MACC has allowed those involved in mega corruption to roam the corridors of power, it is, however, prepared to investigate and harass even if there are murmurs about corruption in Penang or Selangor.

This seems to be the position of the MACC in the recent past. They have come to believe and act that wrongdoers must be those in the opposition as the those in the government can do no wrong.

Such a wild and unrealistic imagination has cast aspersions on the MACC as an agency that will fight the scourge of corruption immaterial as who is involved.

It has been made clear by the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng that the Penang government has not paid a single sen for the tunnel project that is expected to be completed few years later.

To date, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (Zenith), the principal contractor, has been only paid RM208 million for the completion of the three highways after the completion of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The total project including the tunnel and three highways is worth around RM6.3 billion.

The payment for Consortium Zenith was made by way of land swap totalling 3.7 acres at the value of RM1,300 sq ft. The project was awarded to Zenith in 2013 on the basis of an open tender, in a meeting chaired by the state secretary of Penang.

Given the refusal of the federal government to honour its constitutional duty to embark on transport infrastructure, the Penang state government without the required funds had to rely on land swaps for infrastructure network.

None of the Penang state executive councillors were involved in the meeting or the decision making resulting the granting of the project to Zenith.

Regarding the claims by Zenith, HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd, a specialist engineering consultant was appointed to scrutinise the claims. Zenith claimed RM302 million but the HSS could only justify RM208 million.

The awarding of the tender to Zenith and the appointment of HSS Integrated were done in a open and transperant manner. There is nothing to say that the entire project was shrouded in mystery.

As far as the Penang state government is concerned, there is no irregularity or corruption regarding the project to build the three highways or the tunnel project. Although the feasibility study for the tunnel project has nearly been completed, no money has been given to date.

I am not sure about the allegations of corruption that some quarters are talking about sparking MACC investigations.

Where they obtained information that there was a pre-selling of land rights worth RM3 billion remains to be established.

The Penang state government has nothing to hide. We will cooperate with the MACC to conduct their investigations without any hindrance. But at the same time, we ask the those in Putrajaya not to intimidate us just because the general election is around the corner.

P Ramasamy is Penang Deputy Chief Minister 2