BUCG had an edge in Penang undersea tunnel project, losing bidder tells graft trial

KUALA LUMPUR: KUALA LUMPUR: Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) had an advantage over the other bidders of the Penang undersea tunnel and paired roads project, as its representative had meetings with the state government, the Sessions Court heard on Thursday (Sept 23).

An official from one of the unsuccessful parties said his company had not been invited to any meetings with the Penang government before the request for proposal (RFP) stage.

WCT Construction Sdn Bhd senior manager Ooi Bok Thian, 49, said during the graft trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng that any company involved in the meetings would have an advantage.

“If you are involved in the early stage, you will have first-hand information. The time that you have to prepare the tender is more than (what the other bidders get),” he said when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Francine Cheryl Rajendram.

Ooi said he did not know that BUCG was one of the tenderers for the project.

WCT and South Korean company Daewoo had a joint venture to tender for the project.

Daewoo was involved in the building of the Busan-Geoje Fixed Link, an 8.2km bridge-tunnel combination that connects Busan with Geoje-do Island.

Ooi was then shown the minutes of three meetings between BUCG and state government officials.

Asked about the minutes, Ooi said the project's technical issues, financial aspects and scope had been discussed.

He also said no one from the Penang or Malaysian government went to South Korea to view the mega-projects by Daewoo.

Questioned by DPP Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin, Ooi said BUCG received 93 marks out of 100 for the RFP while the second-placed tenderer got 77 marks.

Ooi said the WCT-Daewoo joint venture received 59 marks.

In the pre-qualification process, he added, BUCG received eight points out of 10 while WCT-Daewoo received the full 10 points.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gobind Singh, Ooi maintained his stand that BUCG had an advantage.

However, he agreed after intense questioning by Gobind that there were no specific details of the project in the meeting minutes.

Judge Azura Alwi had to tell Gobind to slow down at one point during his questioning.

Ooi also agreed that the roads and tunnel could not be built based on the documents alone.

He said discussion of the project's scope was still an advantage.

Ooi also said he was not aware of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between BUCG and the Penang government in relation to the project.

To further questioning, Ooi said WCT-Daewoo bid for three projects, while all the other companies bid for four.

Ooi also agreed that the tender process was transparent.

Earlier, Lim’s former private secretary Farida Hani Yabob told the court that Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli had meetings with Lim several times, when the latter was still Penang chief minister.

Lim, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.

For the first amended charge, the Bagan MP is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help Zarul Ahmad's company secure the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister's office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is charged with soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project.

Lim is said to have committed the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.

He is 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 in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.

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