MACC probe hasn’t dimmed investor interest in tunnel, says Penang CM

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow showing the target dates of a list of the first work packages to be awarded for the Penang South Reclamation project.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today said investor interest in the state’s undersea tunnel-and-roads project remains steadfast despite a renewed graft probe by the authorities.

He said the tunnel-and-roads project, part of the larger Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), was of high interest to investors.

“The MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) has yet to announce anything. People are watching. But as for investors, they are looking at the viability of the project, not other factors,” Chow told reporters in Komtar today.

He was responding to a question as to whether the recent MACC probe had derailed investors’ confidence in the PTMP, especially the tunnel-and-roads project.

Recently, the MACC called in Penang executive councillors as part of a renewed probe into the project. A former state official was arrested but later released after his remand expired.

Earlier, Chow announced the creation of a new state company called Penang Infrastructure Corporation Sdn Bhd as a special purpose vehicle to award projects related to the RM46 billion PTMP.

He said the company would also be in charge of planning and developing the three-islands project, or Penang South Reclamation (PSR), once the islands were created.

Three islands are to be reclaimed under the Penang South Reclamation project.

The company would also be in charge of financing matters related to the PSR. Chow, state secretary Abdul Razak Jaafar and state Public Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari will be made the company’s board members. The first meeting will be held later today.

Chow said a CEO, followed by experts in the field, would be picked to be part of the company soon.

On the issue of Penang not being able to issue bonds without federal approval, he said six to seven banks, which were interested in financing the project, had said they only needed a state guarantee to issue bonds.

“If the banks want a state guarantee, who are we to say no?” he asked, adding banks interested in helping to finance the project were welcome to come in with proposals.

Bayan Lepas LRT project

Chow also announced target dates for the first works packages to be awarded for the PSR, LRT, and highways.

Chow said the government targeted the awarding of a contract for the construction of a workers’ dorm and a site office at Permatang Damar Laut  on Dec 1.

He said the contract for the first stage of work on the PSR proper, that is the reclamation, was likely to be awarded on Feb 1, 2021, with the Bayan Lepas LRT contract set to be awarded on Oct 1, 2021.

The first work package for the Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 highway will begin on March 1, 2021, with PIL 2A, an extension road from the main island to one of the artificial islands, to start in Aug 2021.

Chow said the Bayan Lepas LRT project was awaiting the transport minister’s signature, adding that the 30-station LRT from Komtar to Permatang Damar Laut had been tentatively approved.

He said the extension of the LRT line to the three islands would be looked into later.

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