19 August 2018

Guan Eng denies swapping 20ha for undersea tunnel project

Guan Eng denies swapping 20ha for undersea tunnel project

KUALA LUMPUR - The Penang government today denied swapping 20ha with a contractor undertaking an undersea tunnel and three highways project, as claimed by Barisan Nasional.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said branded Penang BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow “a liar” for making the claim.

“The state government did not grant 50 acres of land (20ha) to Zenith as claimed by Teng,” he said, referring to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.

“After all, they have not done work equivalent to the value of 50 acres of land. Why should we give them the land?”

Yesterday, Teng raised several questions about the mega-infrastructure project, such as why the state had transferred 20ha to the contractor when physical work on the project had not started.

It was previously reported that Consortium Zenith would receive 44.5ha of freehold reclaimed land in Tanjung Pinang for undertaking the multibillion ringgit infrastructure project.

The consortium then set up a 40-60 joint venture called Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd with developer Ewein Land to develop land in Tanjung Pinang.

In January 2016, Ewein Zenith inked a memorandum of agreement with Consortium Zenith to grant Ewein Zenith the right to buy three parcels of land, totalling 20ha in Tanjung Pinang to develop the City of Dream project, which features wellness resorts, apartments and others.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is currently investigating the tunnel and highway project and its contract. It has remanded two directors from Consortium Zenith and Ewein to assist investigation.

Lim said today the state government only paid Consortium Zenith RM208 million via a land swap of 1.5ha of net developed land at RM1,300 per sq ft.

The payment was for the completed and approved EIA (environmental impact assessment) study for three highways, not the tunnel, he said.

“The cost of preparing the EIA reports will finally be borne by Consortium Zenith,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, professional engineering consultant HSSI Sdn Bhd, which was appointed by the state as an independent checker to verify and certify the designs and claims by Consortium Zenith, did not prepare the EIA reports, he said.

Teng also questioned the hiring of HSSI at a cost of RM11.2 million just to check the contractor’s claims.

“How can there be alleged corruption in the entire project when it was conducted through an open competitive tender?

“Clearly , this entire investigation is a malicious political witch-hunt designed to sabotage the project, which is aimed at alleviating the traffic problem, and to undermine the state government in the run-up to the general election,” Lim said.

Lim also threatened to sue Teng for defamation despite a pending suit against the BN leader in the Penang High Court. 

He is suing the state Gerakan chairman for claiming he had caused the Penang Development Corporation to lose RM220 million when he turned down a joint venture deal, and accepted another that only generated RM140 million profits for the state investment arm.


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