Tunnel probe: Penang seeks explanation from Zenith

Reuters pic.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is seeking an explanation from Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC), its undersea tunnel and three main roads project contractor, on allegations that it had paid RM22 million to two individuals to close graft investigations into the project.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state secretary is writing a letter and will be sending it to the contractor, as they wanted it to be put in black and white.

“We have not received any calls from Zenith. We are completely in the dark.

“If they do not want to let us know, then we will ask Umno to tell us.

“If there is anything about Zenith next time please don’t ask us. Ask Umno. They seem to know much more than us,” he told a press conference here today.

Lim was asked to comment on whether CZC had sought out the state government to explain the recent arrest of a businessman by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for allegedly receiving RM19 million to shut investigations into the project.

Apart from the businessman, Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim is also alleged to have received RM3 million. He has since denied the allegation.

Malaysiakini had previously reported that Azeez and another businessman were supposed to do “consultancy work in regulatory compliance and risk management” in relation to the undersea tunnel component.

The portal also reported Azeez and a businessman were issued demand letters by CNZ on Feb 24.

The source said CNZ wants 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 over the case.

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

Five people have been arrested and 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).