By Aathi Shankar
MCA President Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong has called on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to clarify the status of its investigation on the mega Penang Tunnel Scandal.
The Ayer Hitam MP’s call is timely given that the MACC probe into the scandal has been going on for past 2 years now but the anti-graft agency is yet to shed light on the case.
Penang Chief Minister and current federal Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, current Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy, and former state Executive Councillors, Lim Hock Seng and Malik Kassim were among those implicated with the mega scandal.
Those who have been linked with this mega scandal, mostly DAP leaders, are roaming freely along the corridors of power.
But the MACC under Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government has been strangely quiet on this colossal scandal.
MACC’s silence on the case is deafening indeed.
High Moral Ground
PH came to power in May 2018 with a strong campaign on high moral ground.
PH leaders, including the current 7th Prime Minister (PM7) Mahathir Mohamad, have promised to flush out high-level corruption.
During the 14th General Election (GE14) PH leaders publicly declared to be “whiter than white” if the coalition captured the federal government.
They vowed not to compromise with anyone or anything in their anti-graft crusade.
But after a year, no one has been charged directly with scandal.
The prolonged secrecy over the probe has caused a public trust deficit.
Of course a businessman G. Gnanaraja was charged in April this year for allegedly deceiving and cheating Consortium Zenith Construction managing director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli of RM19 million.
Zenith is the main contractor of the project.
Those millions were supposedly forked out by Zarul Ahmad for Gnanaraja to “settle” the MACC investigation into the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project.
Why should Gnanaraja be paid millions to ‘kow tim’ the case if there was no wrongdoings?
The scandal did take place?
Laymen are hoping to get answers for these questions when the trial gets underway.
The people want the PH government to walk its talks on high moral ground.
The RM6.3 billion project is to construct a 7.2km undersea tunnel to connect George Town’s Gurney Drive and Bagan Ajam in Butterworth, and three main roads from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km), Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km) and Jalan Pangkor-Gurney Drive junction to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (4.1km).
Construction of the project is being scheduled to begin in 2023, a startling 11 years after the Penang government then led by Guan Eng had awarded the tender to Zenith in 2012.
The project cost does not include the RM305 million paid for the project’s feasibility, detailed design and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies.
The studies were scheduled to be ready at the end of 2016 but until today, there is no news about it.
Ka Siong has demanded the MACC to investigate how the project could have been given the green light when, according to Chow, the feasibility study was still incomplete as of August, last month.
Yet buildings are already being constructed on the 2 plots of land given to the developer as a payment to complete the studies in a land swap deal.
Once completed, the developed plots of land are expected to fetch some RM10 billion in gross development value, a real bargain vis-à-vis the RM305 million.
“On the other hand, not a square inch of the three paired roads or the undersea tunnel project has been carried out so far. How is this so?” the MCA chief rightly pointed out.
One wonders whether the studies had even commenced or not!
Earlier this year, Chow announced unilaterally that MACC had cleared all those involved with the alleged tunnel scandal, adding that his government would go ahead with the mega infrastructure project.
He announced that the anti-graft agency had sent two letters to Zenith and Zarul Ahmad clearing them of any impropriety.
However, just recently though, MACC Chief Latheefa Koya had said that details of active investigations could not be revealed.
It means the investigation was still pending.
If pending, had Chow lied publicly?
“So which is it? Has the case been closed or not?
“If the project hasn’t been cleared, does that mean Chow lied?” asked Ka Siong.
Leaked MACC investigation papers (IPs) on the mega scandal, published by online portal Malaysia Today, revealed that Zarul Ahmad had allegedly paid off thousands to Penang government leaders under Guan Eng.
Of course Zarul Ahmad, Guan Eng and others have brushed aside the allegations.
The investigation on how the IPs were leaked to Malaysia Today is still pending. No news on it too.
Hence, heightened public anxiety.
It’s time for MACC to emerge from its shell and clear the air on the status of all its investigations on the mega Penang Tunnel Scandal.