The merry go-around over the RM6.3 billion tunnel fraud scheme

 |Feb 13, 2018

OPINION

By Raggie Jessy

Yesterday, Lim Guan Eng held yet another one of his hare-brained press conferences in Komtar, George Town. In what has since become a near-daily routine, the Penang Chief Minister made yet another spectacle of his idiocy, this time, by challenging Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong to prove some ‘lies’ the MCA deputy president was alleged to have told. Now, I’m still scratching my head with this one.

The reason being, why would anyone need to prove something the Chief Minister has already decided is a lie? Seriously, is Guan Eng actually asking Ka Siong to come out and declare that “yes, everything I said last Sunday was a lie,” or is he expecting the MCA deputy chief to say “no, I was telling the truth, and I have the black and white to prove what I’m saying.”

Each time this madman opens his mouth, I get so terribly confused, as probably do newsmen covering his childish pressers every other day. A prominent journalist confided in me late last night that our reporters are so fatigued by his irritable antics, they’re finally waking up to the reality that the runarounds he’s giving them is a sign he’s truly done for.

Yes, Guan Eng clearly has his balls pinned to the wall over a scheme he’s trying so desperately to shield from media scrutiny. But each time he tries, he fumbles and contradicts himself to such extremes, he’s doing a helluva job personifying himself as the Cheat Minister we’ve repeatedly been telling the media he is. Which is why, there absolutely is no reason for me or even Ka Siong to dignify the stuff he told reporters yesterday with point-for-point rebuttals or anything of that sort.

However, what we do need to know is if the Cheat Minister still thinks China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd (CRCC) is “actively” participating in the Penang Undersea Tunnel ‘project’. Judging by the tone with which he told newsmen that “Wee (Ka Siong) is privy to information from the main contractor…. even the state government is not aware of,” it is quite obvious that the Chinese construction firm hasn’t been in active communication with both the state government and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) awarded the tunnel project for quite a while.

I say quite while, considering that on Sunday, Ka Siong disclosed that CRCC was forced to cease work after having received only “5 per cent (or a little over RM3mil) in payment from their RM69 million contract ever since the tunnel project was awarded 5 years ago.” A well placed source has since revealed that CRCC stopped work sometime in 2015 or 2016, meaning, Guan Eng is without a doubt aware that the construction firm has long been “inactive”.

So tell me, how could a firm that hasn’t been in active communication with the SPV for close to two years be its “main contractor?”

Things just keep getting weirder when you consider what Lim Hock Seng told that a state assembly sitting on the 22nd of May 2017. On that day, the Cheat Minister’s exco declared that a total of RM219.99 million was paid to the SPV and an independent consultant for ‘services’ rendered, the breakdown of which is as follows:

Payments made:
Payment to Consortium Zenith : RM208.75 million
Payment to HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd: RM11.23 million
Overall: RM219.99 million

We were told that the RM208.75 million payment to the SPV was negotiated in two stages, the first of which involved the transfer of 3.67 acres of state land worth RM135 million on the 17th of February 2015. The second payment, which took place on the 22nd of March 2017, involved the transfer of a remaining two acres of state land, said to be worth some RM73 million.

Now, Ka Siong has since disclosed that CRCC was contracted “for a sum of US$22 million (approximately RM69 million then) to undertake the detailed design work for the 3 roads and tunnel,” which, according to the MCA leader, “is the largest scope among the RM305 million worth of reports that the Penang state government is paying the Tunnel SPV for”.

However, we now know that the Chinese construction firm refrained from actively participating in the project sometime in 2015 or 2016 itself. The SPV refused to fulfil its obligations to CRCC despite having ventured with a public listed company to develop luxury high-rises on the parcels it received as ‘payment’ in 2015.

Yet, the state government went ahead and ‘donated’ RM73 million worth of land in 2017. Was the Cheat Minister not aware that the SPV was never intent on paying the China company in full? Tell me, does this not bring into question Guan Eng’s motives in approving the 2017 land-swap deal, which, for all intents and purposes, was more a ‘development bonanza’ for the SPV than it was ‘payment’ for infrastructure that would have benefited the people of Penang?

See where I’m going with this, Mr Cheat Minister?

Either you come out to declare Ka Siong a fraud, or come clean on your complicity with the SPV to pull off what may well be the biggest fraud scheme ever contrived in Malaysian history. Unless you want to be known as “the Cheat Minister who robbed Penang of its land and worth” – which, for all intents and purposes, is what the tunnel project was all about – you had better respond to this article or suffer my wrath as I hammer more nails to your balls.

Seriously, it amazes me that a person of your stature can’t figure out why officials from CRCC would rather deal with the MCA than members of your own administration. Did it not occur to you that by falsely implicating a well reputed Chinese construction firm in your multibillion fraud scheme, you triggered some serious alarms that warranted cross-border communications between Malaysia and CRCC that the MCA volunteered to mediate?

So why ask stupid questions like how Ka Siong could have been privy to this or that’? Why not ask yourself instead if those fellows at Zenith spilled the beans by telling the MACC what I already know, that you and your men conspired with a couple of crooks from the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) to receive kickbacks worth millions from the pre-sale of state land worth RM2.83 billion and development of luxury high-rises worth RM800 million?

No?

Then why don’t you sue me??? – The Third Force

* The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Malaysia Outlook.