Ex-PPC chairman held for four days

GEORGE TOWN: Former Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Jeffrey Chew will be remanded until Saturday.

Lawyer RSN Rayer said the arrest was made following a recent report lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) but declined to reveal details.

“MACC requested to remand Chew for seven days but we objected. The remand is to facilitate MACC investigation following a recent report lodged to the commission but I am not at liberty to reveal further details.

“We will continue to support him and believe he has not committed any offence, ” Rayer said outside the Bayan Baru centralised lockup yesterday.

Rayer said he, Ramkarpal Singh and Gobind Singh Deo would be acting as lawyers for Chew.

On the section which Chew would be investigated under, Rayer said it had not been disclosed yet.

Earlier, at a press conference by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, he revealed that MACC had said other state officials would also be questioned on the Penang undersea tunnel project.

“It need not be present executive councillors but previous ones who were involved in the project, ” Chow said when asked to comment on Chew’s arrest.

He did not reveal any names.

Chow said MACC had said last year that it was a “cold case” and there would not be any further investigation.

“The state will give its full cooperation to MACC’s investigation, ” he said.

Chew was arrested by MACC when he was called to give a statement at the commission’s Penang headquarters in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah at 2pm on Tuesday.

Before he became PPC chairman in 2018, Chew, 52, was special assistant to former chief minister Lim Guan Eng in charge of manufacturing, industries and investments.

Last May, MACC confirmed opening six investigation papers on the Penang undersea tunnel project.

According to the anti-graft body, the first investigation paper was opened in July 2017 while five more were launched in January last year.

It said a total of five investigation papers were completed and referred to the DPP.

MACC said three investigation papers were returned to the commission for further investigation.

In 2018, MACC remanded Ewein Bhd managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli over their involvement in the project.

At that time MACC raided the offices of four state government agencies – Public Works Department; State Secretary; Office of Lands and Mines; and Valuation and Property Services Department – and three property development and construction companies – Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, 555 Capital Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith Construction’s Penang office.

Ewein Zenith is a joint-venture vehicle of Ewein Land Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd.

The latter is a Malaysia-China joint venture that was awarded the RM6.3bil mega project to build the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai, a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR) from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

Consortium Zenith BUCG changed its name to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd after the withdrawal of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG).

It is believed that MACC is looking into why the state government allowed the Penang Tunnel special purpose vehicle (SPV) company to pre-sell state land rights worth RM3bil despite a four-year delay in the construction of roads.

Investigators are also believed to be looking into the RM305mil feasibility and detailed design studies that have yet to be completed, even though payment of RM220mil was made to the SPV.

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