Tunnel probe: Guan Eng asks MACC why Azeez not arrested

AFP pic

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today questioned why the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has not arrested Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim who allegedly received RM3 million linked to the undersea tunnel and three main roads project.

Lim was referring to reports yesterday that Azeez and a businessman were supposed to do “consultancy work in regulatory compliance and risk management” in connection with the undersea tunnel component.

Azeez was allegedly given RM3 million to help in the project, while RM19 million was paid to the businessman.

The businessman has been arrested and remanded for six days.

Speaking at a press conference today, Lim expressed shock over media reports that Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up to undertake the tunnel-roads project, had paid RM22 million to the two individuals.

“This is something that we are not aware of. We will ask Zenith to provide an explanation.

“What we want to ask is why Azeez is not arrested, since he is alleged to have received RM3 million? Why the double standards? Why is MACC playing favourites?” he said.

Lim further questioned why his deputy P Ramasamy, who had nothing to do with the decision-making of the project, had been called up for questioning by MACC.

He also asked why MACC initiated an investigation that was more like an attack against the state government.

“I am attacking BN (Barisan Nasional), but I also question MACC for failing to discharge their duties professionally and independently. I expect to be hauled up too. I am waiting for you (MACC).

“I am angry with MACC. Why is Azeez not arrested? Is it because he is an Umno MP? The businessman was arrested. Why not Azeez?

“Also, why is MACC not taking action against BN media such as New Straits Times, Utusan, The Star? They are involved in fake news,” he said.

Lim also said that past BN media reports of corrupt practice, in which the state leaders had allegedly received millions in kickbacks, have now been proven to be false.

“In the end, allegations of state leaders receiving kickbacks have been proven to be lies.

“You see how BN leaders like (Umno Pulau Betong assemblyman) Muhamad Farid Saad and (state BN chief) Teng Chang Yeow did not want to comment on the matter. They ran away helter skelter like cowards.

“We have been scapegoated,” he said.

The tunnel project controversy took a surprise twist recently when Malaysiakini reported that a 37-year-old businessman had received RM19 million in three different tranches from July to August last year.

Quoting sources, the news portal said the man was initially paid RM2 million, followed by another RM15 million paid to a company and another RM2 million last August.

Yesterday, the portal also reported that Azeez and a businessman were issued demand letters by Zenith on Feb 24.

The report said Zenith wanted to take the men to court for “failing to execute their tasks” as per an agreement in July 2017.

To date, MACC has taken statements from 127 people in connection with its investigation of the tunnel project.

The last major arrest in the case involved the chief executive and an engineer of a consultancy firm, who were alleged to have falsified claims in the feasibility studies and detailed design of the project.

A total five people have been arrested and later released on bail.

The 7.2km undersea tunnel will connect George Town’s Pangkor Road and Bagan Ajam in Butterworth. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023.

The Penang government has been reported as saying that the tunnel is of low priority and can take off later after the three main highways are completed.

The “three main roads” stretch from Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km); Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km); and Jalan Pangkor-Gurney Drive junction to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (4.1km).