The office of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has called attempts to link him to the businessperson arrested by MACC over the Penang undersea tunnel project a “disgusting” smear.
The statement from the office was issued in response to BN strategic communications deputy director Eric See-To, who had asked Lim to verify a viral photo purportedly showing Lim next to the businessperson.
“This is not only ridiculous but a disgusting attempt to smear the Penang chief minister by relying on one photograph.
“As a public figure, the Penang chief minister has taken many photographs with many personalities, and cannot recall how many times or where each and every photograph was taken.
“Does taking a photo makes one a buddy or one who is close to BN into a DAP supporter?” the statement read.
See-To said yesterday the businessperson depicted in the photo was supposedly arrested by MACC over allegations that he received RM19 million to help stave off investigations into the tunnel project.
The CM’s office noted that the Penang government is awaiting a full explanation from the project’s contractor, Consortium Zenith Sdn Bhd, over the alleged RM19 million sum, as well as a further RM3 million paid to another individual.
“BN newspapers are now spinning a story that the businessperson allegedly involved in receiving the money is a buddy of the Penang chief minister, and hence connected to receiving RM19 million.
“This is another classic case of innocent parties, in this case the Penang state government, who are clean, being made the scapegoat for culprits closely connected to BN."
The logic of using such photographs, the CM’s office further insisted, was "perverse," illustrating this with an example of a photo that Lim took with 1MDB-linked property developer Goh Chun Lye.
“Using the latest BN perverse logic, does this mean that the Penang CM is a buddy of Goh and connected to 1MDB too?
“However, the Penang CM taking a photo with Goh did not prevent the latter from leading a concerted campaign, and spending up to RM40 million of 1MDB money to try to defeat the chief minister in his Air Putih constituency during the 2013 general election.”
While stressing that hypothetical photos of BN leaders with the businessperson would not be proof of complicity if they did exist, the CM’s office maintained that the accused has links to the party, based on his appointment as a director of a public listed company.
“What is clear is that those involved in the RM22 million payout are closely linked to top BN leaders. That is why the businessperson was also appointed as a director of a major publicly listed company.
“BN’s attempt to pass off their scandals as Pakatan Harapan scandals will not work, when the people can see the BN-led federal government for the global kleptocracy that it is.
“The Penang CM has instructed its lawyers to study the legal implications of the BN media spinning these photos, including some Chinese newspapers, for running him down.”
Zenith previously issued letters of demand to the businessperson and Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim for failing to render their services in providing "consultancy" in the tunnel project.
MACC subsequently arrested the businessperson who allegedly received the RM19 million and another individual for the RM3 million.
Azeez denied having any dealings with Zenith and threatened legal action, causing the consortium to withdraw its letter of demand and apologise.
MACC subsequently absolved Azeez of any wrongdoing.