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.