KUALA LUMPUR: A witness in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial revealed that the former Penang chief minister had instructed him to contact representatives from the Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) that were keen to help solve Penang’s traffic congestion problems.
Datuk Lim Hock Seng, who is the third witness called to testify in the trial, said on Jan 26, 2011, Guan Eng informed him of a private company that was interested in exploring solutions to Penang’s traffic problems, and keen to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
“I was told to contact BUCG’s Datuk Zarul (Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli). I got Zarul’s number from Guan Eng and we discussed a proposed project involving three main roads and a tunnel in Penang, ” he told the Sessions Court here yesterday.
Hock Seng, a former state exco in charge of public works, public utilities and transportation affairs, added that during a state exco meeting in January 2011, Guan Eng also instructed the then state legal adviser to study a draft of an MOU and scrutinise the state’s land laws to see if landowners can oppose the construction of a tunnel more than six feet (1.8m) below their land.
Hock Seng said Guan Eng also proposed that construction of a tunnel should be done under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI), whereby the cost would be fully borne by the company awarded the project.
However, Hock Seng said he was not certain who drafted the MOU, and said he had met Zarul and another BUCG representative, Lee Chee Hoe, several times before the MOU was signed.
Hock Seng said the then state legal adviser informed an exco meeting on Feb 9, 2011 that he had communicated his views on the MOU to Guan Eng, and the MOU to alleviate Penang’s traffic problem was signed in March that same year at Hock Seng’s office after the state government was satisfied that it would not be bearing any costs.
The document was signed by Hock Seng, Zarul and then state secretary Datuk Farzan Darus.
Hock Seng said there was another signature on the document but he did not recognise it.
Guan Eng was also informed that the MOU had been signed.
In April the same year, Hock Seng said another MOU was signed between the Penang government and BUCG in Putrajaya as a symbol of interest to build a 5km tunnel at the cost of RM10bil.
He also added that the project would be implemented as an open tender.
Hock Seng also revealed that he and Guan Eng were part of a 10-member state delegation to China in May 2011 to see BUCG’s construction of mega projects there.
Guan Eng, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.
For the first amended charge, he is charged with using his position as then chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help a company owned by Zarul to secure the undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang worth RM6, 341, 383, 702.
The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the chief minister’s office.
For the second amended charge, Guan Eng is charged with soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul to help the company be appointed for the same project.
Guan Eng was charged with committing the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.
The former finance minister was also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land owned by the Penang state government worth RM208.8mil to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.
The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Komtar on Feb 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.
The trial continues today.