MACC cleared undersea tunnel company, not me, says Chow

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota) today defended his move to reveal that the builders of the Penang undersea tunnel and roads project were cleared of corruption, following what he said was mounting criticism circulating online.

He said he only stated that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had cleared Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC), but that he was accused by certain quarters of clearing CZC’s name on his own.

“Who am I to free a company from claims of corruption when it was MACC who cleared them? I was just passing on the message,” he told the state assembly during question time today.

He was responding to Mohd Yusni Mat Piah (PAS-Penaga) who asked about the undersea tunnel and MACC’s probe into the project. Yusni also asked if the project would continue if CZC is found guilty.

CZC won an open tender for the undersea tunnel and three main roads project worth RM6.3 billion in 2013. Environmental regulators have given the green light for the three roads, with work on one of them, connecting Air Itam to the coastal expressway, to begin on Aug 31.

A CZC official reportedly said he was pressured by an individual to pay RM18 million in bribes to a middleman under the previous administration to shield them from an anti-corruption probe when in reality, all was above board.

The said middleman has since been arrested and charged with money laundering, among others.

On the status of the undersea tunnel component, Chow said the feasibility study is in the final stages and is being investigated by a checking engineer hired by the state government.

“Comments on the draft report given to CZC in April for amendments have yet to be finalised and agreed on by the Penang government,” he said.

“Until today, the state has yet to pay anything to CZC for the feasibility study for the undersea tunnel component. Payment will be made once the feasibility study is certified by a technical consultant and approved by the state.

“In the event that any party in the project is found guilty in a court of law, action will be taken. As for now, the project will carry on and further instructions will come from the state executive council.”

Opposition leader Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Nor (BN-Sungai Dua) then asked Chow to comment on the middleman issue in the project and whether the state was concerned.

Chow reiterated that no wrongdoing had been discovered on the part of CZC, and that as far as the state government is concerned, the tendering process was above board with all measures in place.

He added that the middleman had already been charged with crimes and has nothing to do with the state government.