Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, the developer of the Penang undersea tunnel, has claimed that it was pressured into paying RM22 million to stop a corruption probe by the MACC.
The firm’s senior executive director Zarul Ahmad Zulkifli claimed he was threatened to submit to certain quarters who claimed to represent the (previous) powers that be – who he rather not name – as they were serious in “getting people into trouble”.
He does not deem the action as a bribe as he paid the money “under duress” as the previous administration was known for “all these underhanded tactics”.
“They put a gun to my head, if we do not pay, we would get into trouble,” Zarul told Malaysiakini in an interview in Penang today.
“During the past administration, when people threatened, you take it seriously, as you do not know if things would happen to you or not, if it is the truth or not, it’s different then.
“I took it seriously, for me I just want to go on with my business, I have no intention or interest to be part of a political quarrel,” he stressed.
“But unfortunately, they deemed me as a collateral damage and for whatever reason, I was caught in between. It was a really a tough time for me,” Zarul lamented.
Zarul said he eventually lodged a report with MACC on the matter, and a probe was ongoing.
He says he is unable to move forward until the probe is completed, but wants to put the incident behind him.
“I want to deliver what I was contracted to do,” he said.
Early this year, Zarul was remanded by MACC for 11 days as part of a major raid into the RM6.3 billion tunnel, which will link Gurney Drive to Butterworth on the mainland.
Zarul said MACC treated him well although there were some issues with his health and he was not allowed to see his doctor.
“They were just doing their job”.
“They treated me very well. I ate well and slept well. I did not lose any weight,” Zarul recalled.
Before the 14th general election, then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng had said he was shocked that Zenith has allegedly paid RM3 million to an MP and RM19 million to a businessperson with a “Datuk Seri title”.
The 7.2km undersea tunnel project includes the 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass. – Malaysiakini
Related report: Jan 10, Two Datuks in Penang Tunnel Probe Remanded