GEORGE TOWN: MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong believes that Lim Guan Eng’s knows that the ‘game is up’ concerning Penang’s undersea tunnel mega project.
He said the Penang Chief Minister’s act of labeling him (Wee) a “despicable human being” betrayed Lim’s desperation, lack of accountability and his attempt to wash his hands off the scandal.
Wee said that other than recycling a statement of which he had long answered, Lim had launched into personal insults, as well as claiming that he had been running down the Penang State Secretary.
“My statements have always been directed at the Chief Minister and never at the Penang State Secretary. For Lim to say I have continuously run down the state secretary is an outright lie.
“However, what the Chief Minister appears to be doing is that he is now attempting to divert the blame for the scandal to the Penang State Secretary and claiming that DAP politicians have no hand in approving the project.
“Unfortunately for Lim, very few people will believe that DAP leaders had no hand in the award of the tunnel project as well as the management of the project,” he said.
Wee said, for one, the award of any project of this size must surely required the state executive council’s endorsement, of whom Lim is the head.
“This tactic to wash his hands off the scandal is also evident when Lim now tells the press that the tunnel project’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) no longer communicates with him, and that the press should divert questions on the SPV to Umno instead. Incredulously, but unsurprisingly, he is now trying to divert the blame to Umno for the tunnel project’s SPV.
“No one can forget the numerous joint press conferences that Lim had with the tunnel project’s SPV nor the dozens of press statements that he had issued to defend the SPV over the years.
“He simply cannot wash his hands off the SPV like this and the severely lopsided project that will eventually cost the Penang people tens of billions of ringgit in losses. It is Lim and DAP's scandal. Do not try to hide.”
Wee also noted that Lim had earlier said that the Penang government had not been in communications with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), the main contractor of the tunnel project, and hence unable to confirm if it had only been paid only RM3 million since the project started and had stopped work.
“If Lim is to be believed, then this is the first time in history that a "’competent and accountable’ government had awarded a multi-billion ringgit project to an unqualified new company, which he alleges is close to their biggest political rivals, that the state government has no communications with as well as having no communications with their master contractor too.
“Other than his staunchest supporters, nobody in their right mind will believe Lim's new story.
“In a final act of desperation, Lim then ended his statement by recycling excuses and allegations, including the flimsy excuse that the state government had not paid a single cent or a single square inch of land to either Zenith or the contractor for the tunnel,” he said.
Wee said such an excuse could fool a DAP supporter but would not fool any rational Penang citizen who knows that the the RM6.34 billion project was awarded as one project, which included the undersea tunnel and the three paired roads.
Wee added that it was common knowledge that the Penang government had already paid RM220 million for reports for the three paired roads - or a report cost of RM11 million for each km of road - descibed as a “staggeringly high sum” for just reports.
He noted that Lim also continued to blame Barisan Nasional for "sabotaging this public interest project that seeks to alleviate traffic congestion in Penang”.
“However, he does not mention that BN does not need to sabotage the project as the DAP-led Penang government itself had already failed to even start any construction of any roads or tunnel even after five years.
“Instead of coming up with illogical excuses, blaming
others and making a fool of himself, Lim should admit that the state government under him had awarded a mega-billion ringgit project to an unqualified company that was just 82-days-old at time of award with terms that are heavily lopsided and had failed badly to manage the project.
“Lim should also come out to explain that if RM22 million was paid in an attempt to cover up corruption, what is the actual total of corruption involved that needed to be covered up?
“If Lim is still dissatisfied with me, instead of cowardly calling me such names as ‘despicable human being’ via press statements, perhaps he can be man enough to challenge me to a public debate on the Penang undersea tunnel project.”
The tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies as well as the 22-month delay in completing it.
It is now a subject of investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
To date, five people, including two Datuk Seri, two Datuk and a female engineering consultant had been arrested to assist in MACC’s probe into the controversial project.