Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has dismissed controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s allegations of corruption involving the Penang Undersea Tunnel Project as “ridiculous lies”.
- Raja Petra alleged Lim Guan Eng, Chow Kon Yeow, Dr Ramasamy, Lim Hock Seng, Umno leader Nazri Aziz involved in tunnel graft
- Blogger claimed to have been given 200-page document by MACC individual
- MACC lodges police report, launches probe into allegations
- Previously, PAS’ Nasrudin Hassan expressed regret, withdrew a similar allegation when sued by Guan Eng
- Tunnel contractor Zenith reminds “all skeptics out there” that MACC had conducted extensive investigation before PH came into power, with no graft charges levelled against anyone
- Tunnel project to start construction on Aug 31
“(The contract for the Penang Undersea Tunnel Project was awarded) through open tender.
“So how can there be corruption when there was an open tender?” he told reporters today.
In a recent entry in his political blog, Raja Petra alleged that Lim and four other Penang state executive councillors were involved in corrupt practices involving the project.
The four others are chief minister Chow Kon Yeow, deputy chief minister Dr Ramasamy former public works exco Lim Hock Seng and PKR leader Abdul Malik Kassim.
Apparently, Nazri Abdul Aziz introduced the tunnel contractor to Lim Guan Eng and he allegedly was paid RM500,000.
Raja Petra also claimed to have been given a 200-page document by an individual at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), from which he produced extracts of its contents in several online installments to expose the matter.
Meanwhile, the MACC has launched a probe into the Penang Undersea Tunnel Project as well as a separate probe into Raja Petra’s allegations.
The RM6.3 billion development has long been a subject of controversy, especially with regards to the high cost of its RM305 million feasibility studies, as well as the nearly two-year-long delay in its completion.
However, Lim pointed out that the previous Barisan Nasional government had investigated the project for corruption and no action was taken.
“There was (even) a suit by me against PAS’ Nasrudin (Hassan Tantawi who made) a similar allegation, and you know, he withdrew his statement, expressed regret and even paid me legal fees of RM10,000.
“For those who try to (make this allegation), they must not only look at the facts but this court case with Nasrudin. You’ve got to take this into account.
“These are lies not only directed at (me) but at four other exco members, and you know who the four other exco members are.
“I mean, it’s ridiculous…you know?
“I don’t know what sort of lies (Raja Petra) will make up, but are we going to be entertaining these lies?” he added.
In 2014, PAS information chief Nasrudin told the Penang High Court that he regretted making a “baseless” statement on his Facebook account against the then Penang Chief Minister.
Lim had taken Nasrudin to court for the latter’s Facebook posting titled ‘Apa Beza Kidex dan Penang Tunnel’ (What is the difference between Kidex and the Penang Tunnel?).
In his post, Nasrudin claimed that the project was awarded through direct negotiation and not open tender as publicised.
Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd Senior Executive Director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli said the allegations in the blog were clearly concocted to deceive the public and defame his company and the Penang state government.
“Even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said it is a lie,” he said in a statement today.
Zarul said the MACC conducted an extensive investigation into the project in which he was remanded for 11 days.
“Besides me, my entire company was called for questioning, spending a total of 40 days in and out of the MACC office, cooperating with every single aspect that was being investigated,”
“This includes close scrutiny of our accounts,” he said.
He said the MACC had even hired external consultants to see if the company was fair in its pricing.
“And clearly, given the magnitude of our project, our prices were fair, justified and above board,” he said.
He reminded “all sceptics out there” that the case was investigated and completed before the ruling coalition was voted into power during the last general election.
“There was plenty of time to level charges against me or anyone else alleged to receive bribes,” he said.
Asked if he was planning to take legal action against Raja Petra over these claims, Zarul said, “It’s a waste of resources as he is not in the country.”
He said the company’s goal now is to put all of their resources into the project so that it could kick off as soon as possible.
Asked about the status of the project, Zarul said a Gant chart detailing the project schedule had been presented to the Penang exco.
“If all the deliverables can be achieved on time, we expect to start construction on Aug 31,” Zarul said.
“It has been very challenging for me over the years to counter every single allegation, but yet the truth has always prevailed.
“I pray that God gives me the strength to persevere and complete the job I am tasked to do,” he added.