See-To cites three examples of Penang govt being ‘consistently inconsistent’

Eric See To BN

MO,15/2/2018, PETALING JAYA: The Penang state government is being “consistently inconsistent” in defending its controversial undersea tunnel and three paired roads project, said Datuk Eric See-To. In a statement on Thursday (Feb 15), the Barisan Nasional strategic communications deputy director gave three examples to substantiate his claims.  He first referred to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that 110 acres of land was not transferred to Zenith Consortium, nor was there any approval issued for high-density luxury condominiums.

“Yes, 110 acres (which would have been worth RM6.34bil) were not transferred yet but what Lim failed to mention is that 5.67 acres was already transferred.  “Of these, 3.7 acres were indeed approved for high-density luxury condominiums for the City of Dreams project,” he said.  In his second example, See-To said both Lim and his second deputy, P. Ramasamy had claimed the latter was not directly involved in the project and therefore should not have been investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

However, See-To said Ramasamy had issued multiple statements to defend the project, all between Jan 25 and Feb 13.  “Ramasamy also claimed that Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is trying to sabotage the project because Liow was late in replying a letter from Ramasamy asking to acquire land for the project.  “And yet, he and Lim dare to claim that Ramasamy is not involved in the project at all?” he said.  See-To’s third example was in reference to the state government’s claim that the Transport Ministry had refused to release land for the three paired roads.

He claimed Ramasamy had said the piece of land required in Jelutong was owned by the ministry and it had refused to budge, but that the state had already received conditional approval for environmental impact assessment (EIA) on Nov 7 last year.  “Ramasamy himself said that he wrote to the Transport Minister on Dec 15 last year and received a reply on Feb 5 to set up a meeting.  “Is a reply that took two months considered as the ministry trying to sabotage the project?” he said.

The controversial 7.2km undersea tunnel, which was awarded to Consortium Zenith, was proposed to connect Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Butterworth as part of the Penang Transport Master Plan to ease traffic congestion in the state.


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Stop assailing MACC, PCM leader tells Penang CM


MO,14/2/018, GEORGE TOWN: “Stop attacking the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and let them continue with their investigation to uncover the truth in Penang.” This was Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan’s stern message to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng after the latter accused the graftbusters of being part of an elaborate plan to “frame his government.”

Lim’s accusation was in response to state Public Works Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng’s marathon 12-hour questioning by the anti-graft body yesterday as part of its probe into the proposed RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy will have his statement recorded today. “I want to again remind (Lim) Guan Eng that this country does not belong to his father or his family.

“This country belongs to all Malaysians and each Malaysian is subject to the laws of this land. “The authorities of this country are duty-bound to investigate any form of (alleged) bribery or abuse of power as they deem fit. Just let them get on with their jobs,” he said today. Huan said it has to be noted that both Hock Seng and Ramasamy were only asked to give their statements to the MACC, and not detained.

“(The MACC) believes that they could help with the investigation into the mother of all scandals in Penang involving a multi-billion ringgit project. “As such, the statement issued by (Lim) Guan Eng, criticising the MACC, is most uncalled for. “The MACC is an independent body and he should… support (them). “By criticising the MACC, he is setting a bad example to the young generation of this country,” he said, adding that it seems that DAP and Guan Eng are not serious in fighting corruption and abuse of power.

Huan also advised Guan Eng to “relax a little bit” and have faith in Hock Seng and Ramasamy. “These two loyal DAP members will definitely protect the name of DAP and its leaders,” he said. Huan said that rather than attack the MACC, Lim should respond to the challenge issued to him yesterday by MCA’s deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong. “If the chief minister is really brave and confident he has not done nothing wrong in this multi-billion dollar project, he should answer Wee’s questions straight away and not beat around the bush and try to avoid the MCA deputy president.

“Has (Lim) Guan Eng forgotten that his father once said that if the MACC comes under attack, it is the responsibility of the rakyat to defend the MACC?” he added.


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Death of Indonesian maid: Penang police to complete case soon


MO,13/2/2018, BUKIT MERTAJAM: Police believe they will wrapped up the investigations into the death of an Indonesian maid – allegedly from repated abuse by her local employers – soon. This follows the arrest of a 60-year-old woman and her children, aged 36 and 39 recently. State police chief Datuk A Thaiveegan said police were in the midst of completing the investigation paper in relation to the case.

“Further investigation is ongoing and we have recorded statements from several people, including witnesses, neighbours and the doctor who attended to the maid, Adelina Lisao, 26. “We are still looking for several more witnesses to complete our investigation. For now, there will not be any additional arrest,” he said when met after launching the Ops Selamat 12 in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration at the Juru toll plaza here today.

Thaiveegan said police were also waiting for the full post-mortem report to ascertain how long the abuse could have taken place. It was reported that Adelina was rescued by police on Saturday following suspected repeated abuse by her employers. She died at 4.45pm on Sunday while being treated at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital.

When found at her employer’s home at Taman Kota Permai, she had severe injuries on her head and face, and infected wounds on her hands and legs. Her plight came to light after a police report was lodged by an aide to the Bukit Mertajam member of parliament. The case, which was initially investigated under Section 324 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing hurt, will not be investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.


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Liow: CRCC not shareholder in Penang tunnel project’s SPV and Zenith


MO,5/2/2018, GEORGE TOWN: China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has confirmed that it was never a shareholder in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the proposed RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. The company also said it was not a shareholder in SPV’s parent company, Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, nor did it ever dealt directly with the Penang government for the project, which included an undersea tunnel and three-paired roads.

This was conveyed to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai by top officials of CRCC during his recent visit to China to attend the 1st Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Civil Aviation and a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. Liow said the top CRCC officials were eager to stress certain points to him as they had been informed and briefed on the recent controversy regarding the Penang tunnel and three paired roads project.

“CRCC has neither given approval nor has knowledge of why the Penang government had considered them as shareholders of the project’s SPV. “The company said they had only signed an ‘acknowledgment of commitment’ as an appendix to preliminary agreement of the project, that they will deliver the project should they be awarded any portion of the project by the SPV,” he added.

Liow said as of today, CRCC had preliminarily contracted with the SPV to be the EPC (engineering, procurement & contruction) contractor, and had also been given a contract by the SPV to perform detailed design reports for a total of US$22 million for the three roads and undersea tunnel.

“CRCC also assures that the unique circumstances of the Penang tunnel and three paired roads project cannot and shall not be used as a measure of their performance, and that CRCC will deliver its commitments for any current or future contracted projects as per agreed schedules and budget,” he noted.

Previously, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Dr Wee Ka Siong had asked if the Penang government could produce proof to support its earlier statement that CRCC was a shareholder in the SPV. The state government had stated in the March 4, 2013 issue of its fortnightly publication Buletin Mutiara that CRCC and Zenith Construction jointly owned 70 per cent of the project.

The other shareholders were Beijing Urban Construction Group, Juteras Sdn Bhd and Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd, holding an equal share of 10 per cent each. Together, these companies formed the SPV for the project. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng uploaded a video on his Facebook page recently to answer questions on investors raised by Wee.

In the video, he said the composition of shareholders would not affect the project as they were not the main contractor, while stressing that CRCC was still the main contractor. The Penang Barisan Nasional had also asked the state government to come clean on the discrepancy in the cost of feasibility studies and detailed design (FSDD) works for the tunnel project.

CRCC had announced previously that it signed the FSDD contract valued at USD22 million (or approximately RM69.3 million) for the tunnel project in Penang. However, the Penang Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the state assembly dated Oct 19, 2015 and the state government’s reply to the state assembly on May 19, last year, put the total value of the FSDD at RM305 million, a difference of RM236 million.

Hitting back at claims of discrepancy, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had explained that CRCC was not the only consultant involved with the FSDD works for the project. He had said that CRCC was one of 34 consultants appointed by Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd to conduct the studies, which brings a total of RM305 million for the studies of both the undersea tunnel and three paired roads projects.

He explained that CRCC was only conducting part of Package 4, which is the undersea tunnel project, and therefore the value of RM69.3 million was part of the FSDD works for the project. The Penang undersea tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the RM305 million technical studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing it.

It is now a subject of investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). To date, four people, including a Datuk Seri, two Datuk and a female engineering consultant, had been detained to assist in investigation. All have since been released.


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Wan Junaidi: Ministry has not been officially notified of Penang tunnel project


MO,30/1/2018, PETALING JAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry says it was not officially notified of the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project and that it has not approved any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on it. Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar (pic) said that whatever information the ministry has gathered so far has been through the media. “To date, the ministry via its approving authority which is the Department of Environment (DOE), has not been officially informed by the project proponents of the Penang undersea tunnel project,” he said in a statement on Monday night.

Wan Junaidi said that under normal circumstances, an EIA is only carried out once feasibility studies have been completed. The approximate details of the project could then be presented to the DOE for EIA evaluation, amendment and approval, he said. “It is premature to comment upon the impact and/or mitigation measures that might have to be taken. It is therefore not correct to say that the Ministry has not approved the EIA as the Ministry has no official knowledge of this project,” he said. He added that the project will definitely be subject to the terms and conditions of the EIA Order 2015 which requires the submission and approval of an EIA Report to the Director-General of Environmental Quality, as stipulated under Section 34A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, prior to the implementation of the project.

The project would also require approvals from other agencies under the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry as well as the National Physical Plan Council (NPPC), Wan Junaidi said. “The Ministry strongly urges the Penang state government to comply with all stipulated regulations for the commissioning of such a mega project which will foreseeably have great impact on the surface and subsea environments,” he said. The entire project comprises a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and 4.075km Gurney Drive Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

It also includes a 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai on the mainland. Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng was reported to have said that the state had followed procedure to secure the EIA for the paired roads late last year but before work could start, four people were detained in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s probe. Lim also said that the undersea tunnel, which was scheduled to be completed by 2027, was still undergoing a feasibility study.

The project is under investigation by the MACC for the alleged high cost of the feasibility study as well as the payment method that involves an exchange of state government land.


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‘Datuk Seri’ remanded for five days in Penang tunnel probe


MO,25/1/2018, PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has obtained a five-day remand order to investigate the chairman of an engineering consultancy firm over his involvement in the Penang undersea tunnel project. Magistrate Fatina Amyra Abd Jalil allowed the 62-year-old “Datuk Seri” to be held in custody until Jan 29.

The man arrived at the Putrajaya magistrate’s court at 9.35am on Thursday (Jan 25) clad in orange MACC lock-up attire. The man is the fourth person to be arrested in the MACC’s large-scale probe into the case He was detained at 2.44pm on Wednesday (Jan 24) after having his statement recorded at the MACC headquarters here.

According to sources, the Datuk Seri is being investigated over the forging of claim documents submitted to the Penang government over the RM305mil feasibility study into the RM6.3mil project that comprises three main roads and an undersea tunnel.

On Wednesday, a senior engineering consultant in her 50s was remanded for five days. Earlier this month, two high-ranking Datuks of development and construction companies spent a total of 11 days in MACC custody after being detained.

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Penang government told to accept criticism to improve governance, not threaten to sue


MO,20/1/2018, GEORGE TOWN: DAP-led Penang government was told to practice openness and accept criticism from the people in order to improve its governance rather than threatening to take legal action. State Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the state government headed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should not assume that all its actions or decisions were right. This includes the decision by state government which agreed for land swap in Tanjong Pinang as payment for the studies involving the three paired roads project, which cost of RM208 million.

Till date, the land was still considered ‘nonexistent’ as reclamation of the land was yet to be completed. “As a politician, he must accept criticism and should not be suing everyone who does that. His act of scaring reporters for publishing news against him is not right at all. “Newsmen are only doing their job, so he must not intimidate them with legal action. If he cannot take the criticism, then he should return as an accountant. No one would want to criticise an accountant,” he said at a press conference today.

Earlier this week, Lim decided to sue four news outlets for publishing allegations by the state Barisan Nasional on issues relating to the proposed undersea tunnel and the three paired roads project. Teng has also initiated legal action against Lim over the same matter.

The controversial multi-billion ringgit undersea tunnel and the three paired roads project were now being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing it.

To date, the MACC has raided 42 locations including government agencies and consultant companies in Penang and the Klang Valley. The graft buster has also recorded statements from 76 witnesses. Meanwhile, Teng again questioned the method of allowing for a land swap deal as payment for the feasibility studies for the multi-billion project.

“Is this the land they agreed to swap? Where is the land? I can only see mud right now,” he said.


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Two Datuks in Penang undersea tunnel probe released on MACC bail


MO,19/1/2018, PETALING JAYA: The two “Datuks” who were remanded in connection with a graft probe into the controversial Penang undersea tunnel have been released from custody. The duo, aged 49 and 59, were released on a bail of RM200,000 each, by the magistrate’s court in Putrajaya on Friday (Jan 19).

They were arrested on Jan 9 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) before being remanded for six days beginning Jan 10. The remand was then extended for another five days from Monday (Jan 15). Meanwhile, it is learnt that the MACC is now looking into new leads that were obtained in the course of its probe into alleged kickbacks received by certain groups.

Investigations are focused on the feasibility studies for the undersea tunnel project and the processes involved in undertaking the project.


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200 PKR members in Penang quit party, join MU


MO,17/1/2018, GEORGE TOWN: More than 200 PKR members walked out of the party today, citing the party’s subservience to DAP and inconsistency in its struggle, among others. Led by its Jelutong division assistant chief Lim Boon Miin, they handed over their membership forms to newly-formed party, Malaysian United Party (MU).

Lim, who joined PKR prior to the March 2008 general election, believing in its ‘Reformasi’ promise, claimed the party had deviated from its initial path, especially when they started to work with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). He said the situation worsened after PKR joined Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan) coalition and lost its voice to DAP. “What is the point of us being in PKR when our voices are not heard? We are disappointed and the best thing for us to do is leave and fight from outside.

“We are certain that more people will follow our decision to leave the party soon,” he told a press conference at the MU office here today. Tens of members who joined him in quitting PKR were also present. Elaborating, Lim said those who decided to leave were also disappointed with the internal infighting in Pakatan Harapan, clearly showing signs of cracks and lack of understanding among one another.

“We cannot accept the fact that DAP, especially in Penang, is discriminating towards PKR assemblymen in the state. “We are also disappointed with PKR Selangor’s lack of consistency, by sidelining the initial struggle and supporting DAP. He also noted that, for their own personal interest, the PKR leadership was now working with Dr Mahathir and PPBM.

“It pains us to see that PKR has lost its sense of direction. “PKR was set up to fight Dr Mahathir for his inhumane treatment against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. “Now, the party is working with this very same man,” he lamented. Lim said to compound matters, the party leadership does not even support its own elected representatives when the Penang Chief Minister acted unfairly towards them.

Meanwhile, MU president Tan Gin Theam said for so many members to defect the party, it shows that they were aware that Pakatan Harapan is now dead and exist only in name. “Their consciousness stems from the fact that the DAP has been autocratic and dictatorial in its decision-making, and has always bullied and suppressed their Pakatan Harapan partners.” he added.


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Penang BN tells state government to come clean on undersea tunnel project


MO,16/1/2018, GEORGE TOWN: Is the Penang government lying in relation to payments made for the proposed undersea tunnel project, Barisan Nasional asked. State BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng recently said the state government had not paid a single sen for the tunnel project but official documents proved otherwise.

Dishing out official documents from the state legislative assembly sitting on Nov 2 last year, Teng said the state government had disclosed then that it had paid RM11.2 million in cash to HSSI Sdn Bhd, a technical consultant appointed by the state government to review and certify the claims payment submitted by the contractor. “Is this not lying when the Penang government said not a single sen had been paid but only land swapped?

“Now, it seems that every single sen had been paid and land swapped at the expense of the people of Penang,” he told newsmen at the state Gerakan headquarters here this afternoon. Teng demanded the DAP-led administration to come clean and be truthful about the consultancy payment of a whopping RM11.2 million just for reviewing and certifying claims payment.

“Is this kind of payment not similar to those cases exposed by the Auditor General’s Report years ago of certain mismanagement, where a set of screwdrivers was bought for RM224.90 when the market price was reported at only RM32?” he asked. Teng said it was not possible for the state government to cry “separate payment” as any payment made formed part and parcel of the tunnel project.

Last week, Lim had told newsmen that the state government had not paid a single sen for the tunnel project so far. He had instead said that the state government had paid RM208 million for the completion of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for the three paired roads, which is another component of the RM6.3 million mega infrastructure project.

He had also said that the payment for Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd was done through two land swaps, totalling 1.48ha, with a nett development cost of RM1,300 per sq ft. Referring to that, Teng said the state Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, dated Oct 19, 2015 and tabled to the state legislative assembly, had clearly stated that the cost of conducting the EIA reports for the three paired roads would be borne by the contractor.

“Is this not another lie by the Penang government? So, in relation to the tunnel project, what has the state government been paying and how was it paid? “Please avoid lying because official documents proved otherwise. Stop the blatant lie and be competent, accountable and transparent to the people of Penang,” he said.

Teng said also raised the issue of the 20ha of land sold by the contractor to a subsidiary, although no work had started yet for the whole tunnel project. It was reported that on Jan 16, 2015, a subsidiary of the contractor signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to secure the rights to purchase 20ha of reclaimed land, valued at RM2.8 billion, from the contractor itself.

“First of all, why is this even allowed when works have yet to begin? Instead, the state government diverted the whole issue and said not a single sen had been paid so far for the tunnel project but land swapped. “Now, we are still awaiting the completion of the feasibility and detailed design studies, which have been delayed for more than 20 months.

“So, along the way, is there someone out there lying or is the Penang government lying? We demand to know the truth,” he noted, stressing that it was not for him to say whether the element of corruption was present along the way. He added that the matter was best left to the relevant authorities to investigate and bring to light. Teng also asserted that their scrutiny of the tunnel project was not indicative of them not supporting it, as alleged by the state government.

“Those are two different issues altogether. DAP has always been advocating democracy and we have every right to question them. Check and balance is very important in a democratic setting. “If not, why did they previously make a hue and cry over the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project mooted by the previous BN-led administration? “We did not say they were not supportive then, even though they put a motion at the state legislative assembly sitting to defer the project.

“That is why we are saying the competent, accountable and transparent (CAT) administration advocated by the Penang government is no longer alive. CAT is dead and buried,” he said pointed out. The tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing it.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has since initiated investigation into the issue, along with the land swap deal and the involvement of a fashion company in the controversial project. Two company officials, with the Datuk title, have been arrested to assist the MACC’s probe into the matter. The duo has since had their six-day remand order extended by another five days.


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