Malaysiakini News

How much is the actual corruption in Penang tunnel scandal?

Wee Ka Siong  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS | Malaysians have been rocked by the recent news report that the Penang tunnel special purpose vehicle (SPV) had paid RM22 million in cash in a failed attempt to stop the MACC investigations into the mega Penang tunnel and three roads project.

These payments had since been confirmed by the Penang tunnel SPV itself.

You cannot blame Malaysians for wondering how much was the actual value of the possible corruption and abuse of power if such a high sum RM22 million was paid in desperation to stop any investigations.

On top of RM22 million already paid by them, the Penang government had also increased the value of the Penang tunnel SPV's luxury condominium project to a Gross Development value of RM800 million by giving super-quick approval as well as increasing the development density from 30 units to 155 units.

The Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (photo) himself was also present during the launch of the SPV's second property project worth RM15 billion to be built on land given by the Penang state government and was also present when the SPV signed to pre-sell RM2.83 billion worth of Penang state land rights to a listed company.

The Penang government had also announced that they will be spending as much as RM9 billion in projects such as the Gurney Wharf, the new eight-lane road along Gurney drive and the Pan-Island Link (PIL) that seems to make the tunnel SPV's RM15 billion property project as the main beneficiary.

We also note that their proposed RM7.5 billion PIL highway of 19.5km at RM385 million per km will be the most expensive highway on a per km basis in Malaysia - more than double of the next most expensive highway.

Most lopsided toll concession in history

Let's not also forget that the Penang government also agreed to give a 30-year toll concession to the tunnel SPV despite fully paying for the construction costs in what can only be described as the most lopsided toll concession in world history - a move that can add as much as RM4 billion in additional profits to the SPV.

This is before the loss arising from state land value appreciation due to the multiple delays of the project that I estimate to be at least another RM2.2 billion.

With such staggering sums in the tens of billions at stake, is it any wonder that RM22 million was spent in a failed attempt at a cover-up?

Given these new developments, the Penang government and DAP can no longer hide from answering my questions about the project as it had over the past two weeks.

They must explain why they had given a multi-billion heavily lop-sided project to a company that was only 82 days old at the time of the RFP that was clearly financially unqualified to meet the RM381 million minimum paid-up capital and if abuse of power by politicians was involved.

Despite fiercely defending the tunnel SPV and the project repeatedly in the past, recent statements from their Penang government seem to suggest that they are now trying to distance itself from the tunnel SPV in a desperate attempt to wash their hands of this scandal.

This is a cowardly move by the DAP Penang government. Instead, they must take full responsibility and admit that this single biggest scandal in the history of Penang that may cost current and future Penangites tens of billions of their money is of their own making.

WEE KA SIONG is MCA deputy president and MP for Ayer Hitam.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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