MCA deputy president and the minister in the prime minister’s department rebuts Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng over the undersea tunnel project
By Wee Ka Siong
LIM Guan Eng should stop repeating his nonsensical accusations towards me like a parrot on the issue concerning the Penang undersea tunnel and 3 highways. As the issue is of great importance to public interest and welfare, I have substantiated every claim with clear evidence for public inspection. He should either provide clear proof to the contrary or take full responsibility for the issue and apologise. Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth. Be like a Chief Minister, Guan Eng.
The doubts and controversies surrounding the equity structure and the amount of paid up capital of the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) for the Undersea Tunnel and the 3 highways are the root causes to the issue before us. Unfortunately, despite the many press statements and conferences, they remain unsettled.
Lim Guan Eng has repeatedly claimed the proposed undersea tunnel and 3 highways are for the benefits of the Penang people. However, the evidences before us are clear. The SPV has secured a 110 acres prime land approved for high density luxury condominiums despite the many delays in the proposed project. The SPV has further secured a 30-year concession to collect toll. This clearly has compromised the people’s welfare.
If Guan Eng is sincere in upholding the welfare to the rakyat, he should answer all my questions raised truthfully. If he still wants to contest the evidences I have provided so far, he should come clean with concrete documentary proof. What we have seen so far is a desperate chief minister fighting his own shadow. Stop putting words into my mouth and accusing me of lying. Walk out from the illusion of truth created by yourself. You owe an explanation to the public and the people of Penang particularly.
The issue surrounding the Penang Undersea Tunnel concerns public interest and welfare. Hence, I shall continue to counter your various frivolous and vexatious accusations toward me and the Barisan Nasional Government through facts and evidences. On your latest statement, I reply categorically as follows:
1. LGE: WKS (Wee Ka Siong) and BN claimed there were corruption and kickbacks involving millions of Ringgit to state government leaders but they barely mention them now.
Please point out which of my press statements or press conferences alleging involvement of kickbacks in this issue. Unlike Lim Guan Eng and his colleagues, I do not make wild claims out of thin air. What I have been doing so far is to raise reasonable doubts, backed by concrete documentary evidences, on the controversies and delay concerning the proposed Penang undersea tunnel and 3 highways. This is a measure of checks and balances under democratic politics.
Corruption is a serious issue to be tackled, as do other forms of misconduct. We leave it to the relevant authorities such as the MACC to investigate whether the proposed project is tainted by any corruption or fraud. I am not in the position to comment on this matter. He who commits a fault thinks everyone speaks of it. If Lim Guan Eng’s conscience is clear, there is no need to cry foul on any ongoing investigations. There is also no need to make ridiculous accusations against me in an attempt to exonerate himself.
2. LGE: There was sabotage by BN leaders and WKS vis-à-vis the proposed project as evidenced by Liow Tiong Lai (MCA president) abusing his position in getting information from CRCC
If raising public interest questions is deemed sabotage by Lim Guan Eng, I am afraid that his DAP colleagues are sabotaging our economy and national development through their questions in the Parliament as well as other various occasions.
Next, as the proposed project concerns logistics and transport infrastructure which fall within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport, it is logical for CRCC which unfortunately has been dragged by Lim Guan Eng into the controversies, to provide information to the Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai to assure the government and the public of their capability to finish other projects on time. Furthermore, Lim Guan Eng has repeatedly touted CRCC’s commitment to the proposed project which has been delayed for about 5 years. Isn’t it reasonable for the Minister of Transport to take proactive measure to assure the public that no such undue delay is expected for other projects by CRCC? Lim Guan Eng’s statement has once again exposed his arrogance of taking features of public interest such as accountability and transparency for granted.
3. Lim Guan Eng again denied he once said that CRCC was a shareholder of Zenith Consortium.
The Penang State Government publication Buletin Mutiara March 2013 issue stated clearly that Zenith Consortium was a consortium of 5 companies, including the CRCC. More importantly, it was because of the involvement of CRCC that the consortium can claim to have an RM 4.5 billion paid up capital. Lim Guan Eng has on 4 occasions mentioned about this RM 4.5 billion paid up capital. However, it was also Lim Guan Eng who later said any matters prior to the preliminary agreement signed in October 2013 should not be taken into account.
Since he wants to deny his own words, I then raised the handsard of the Penang State Legislative Assembly dated 29 November 2013 paragraph 10 which clearly record Lim Guan Eng acting in his capacity as the Chief Minister informing the Assembly that CRCC and Beijing Urban Construction Group have joined Zenith Consortium.
4. LGE: WKS claimed an apparel company is the main contractor for the proposed undersea tunnel and 3 highways. However, the apparel company only acts as an investor in the project. WKS himself admitted later that CRCC remains the main contractor.
First, I have never claimed Vertice Bhd as the main contractor for the proposed project. If I have, please prove it. What I said was the apparel company is involved in the construction of the proposed project. Secondly, I have never denied CRCC as the main contractor. What I am disputing so far is the rhetoric of Lim Guan Eng that CRCC is a shareholder of the SPV.
Moreover, in an exclusive with Nanyang Siang Pau dated 13 December 2017, the chairman of Vertice Bhd Dato’ Zarul Ahmad said that the company has the intention to contract certain construction works in the proposed project. From there on, I did an SSM search on the SPV which led to my subsequent questions on the composition of the SPV and its paid-up capital.
5. LGE: WKS claimed that state government leaders played a role in awarding the proposed project to Zenith Consortium. The proposed project was awarded on the basis of open tender led by a panel headed by the State Secretary as well as other senior officials. On the contrary, there was no open tender for the RM55 billion East Coast Real Link. There is also no investigation into the ECRL contract by the MACC.
The State Secretary is a career civil servant and it is his duty to implement the decision of the State Executive Council, Menteri Besar or Chief Minister. Is Lim Guan Eng suggesting the State Secretary acted without instructions in this instance?
Next, I urge Lim Guan Eng not to further insult the concept of an open tender. By his standard, open tender seems to mean an agreement signed in October 2013 yet unable to produce the feasibility study till end 2015 without any investigation and to date, no construction has ever started.
On the contrary, the East Coast Rail Link that spans across 4 states has begun its construction work. Furthermore, it is a Government to Government (G2G) project without involvement of land swap and for profit development project by private company.
6. LGE: WKS tries to drag the Penang State Secretary into a political fight, alleging that Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd’s paid-up capital has not reached the minimum RM381 million requirement when it won the bid in the open tender.
Does this mean that one can change the shareholder as one likes, without even complying with the minimum paid-up capital requirement, as long as one manipulates any company, as backing to raise the minimum paid-up capital required? So what is the purpose of setting this requirement?
Can Lim Guan Eng answer me now: Does the current SPV still fulfil the minimum paid-up capital requirement? With the SPV’s current financial strength, would it have won the bid at that time?
7. LGE: WKS said the contract is not stamped, especially the main contractor’s Acknowledgement of Commitment.
On January 19, Lim Guan Eng presented an Acknowledgement of Commitment from CRCC. I pinpointed the question of not having this single document stamped. As a result, he showed a stamped contract on 25 January, conceding that the Acknowledgement of Commitment was part of an agreement: So it is the same as being stamped, and even claimed that CRCC had signed two contracts.
However, even CRCC has officially declared that the Acknowledgement of Commitment was just a supplementary document, and it is not signed with the Penang state government. Moreover, CRCC was not among the signing parties which signed the original agreement on behalf of the SPV. Is Lim Guan Eng being irrational or am I unreasonable?
8. LGE: WKS alleged that the Acknowledgement of Commitment provided by the main contractor to guarantee the project’s completion is not legally binding, as it is only an annexure of the main contract.
The Acknowledgement of Commitment is indeed an annexure, and therefore is not considered part of the contract’s main content. More importantly, the agreement was signed on behalf of the four companies within the SPV, which does not include CRCC. When the current SPV signed the contract with a party, the other two companies were no longer accounted as signatories. While one company is winding up, is the stamped contract still valid? Why allow the signatories to be replaced arbitrarily, and when one signatory is replaced, is the contract still valid?
9. LGE: WKS alleged that CRCC is the only consultancy company
When did I ever say that CRCC is the only consultancy company? What I meant was that CRCC was supposedly in charge of the main part of the detailed design report, but the contract for that work is only USD22 million. Then, for other companies which charged USD100 million, what kind of work are they responsible for? What are the charging standards?
10. Lying that the state government had already paid the contractor for the Undersea Tunnel
Which contractor is Lim Guan Eng referring to? From his verbal explanation, have the “shareholders” CRCC been downgraded to a contractor? I have never mentioned that the state government should pay CRCC as the contract was signed between the SPV and CRCC. Any payment made should only be to the SPV. It is illogical for the Penang state government to pay the contractors directly. I never would have thought that such a confusion would arise.
I have expressed that CRCC has received only RM3 million in payments from the SPV so far and it has not reached the agreed amount based on the work progress.
Since Lim Guan Eng kept saying that CRCC is the main contractor and a key part of the project, then how come he fails to comprehend about the payment? Furthermore, he has surrendered a plot of land which belonged to Penangites to the SPV. How can he not question the payment made by the SPV to the main contractor? After all, he said the main contractor is a key person.
Moreover, if Lim Guan Eng is unaware about the payment made by the SPV to the contractor, this proves that the SPV is the one dealing directly with contractor all this while and not the Penang state government. So how is there such a thing as the Penang state government having lost contact with CRCC? What logic can the Penang state government base on to sue CRCC and claim RM6.3b from CRCC if CRCC withdraws from the project?
In conclusion, since the beginning till the end, Lim Guan Eng has an ostrich mentality. He lives in his own world, surrounded with self-contentment, and assumes that the public would not be able to see through his problems, or whatever that has been squandered. These issues involving public interest and security have muddled the rakyat’s trust.
Things are not all right, and Lim Guan Eng has resorted to more trickery to reverse the wrong to become right. With such glaring anomalies, more people will question if he has other unspoken secrets. MCA cannot simply allow these issues involving Lim Guan Eng to be let off as they involve the public interest. Never a day will go by where MCA will simply give up the pursuit of the truth or restore facts, even if not everyone can easily accept our actions.
It would be better for people to take me on as I have a responsibility to the public. MCA insists that public interest comes first. This has always been and will always be MCA’s mission, history and duty.
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Wee Ka Siong is MCA deputy president and minister in the prime minister’s department