Company had an edge, court told

KUALA LUMPUR: The Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) had an advantage over other bidders for the undersea tunnel and paired road projects in Penang as its representatives had had meetings with the state government, the Sessions Court heard.

WCT Construction Sdn Bhd senior manager Ooi Bok Thian said his company had not been invited to any meetings with the Penang government before the request for proposal (RFP) stage.

“If you are involved in the early stage, you will get first-hand information and the time that you have to prepare the tender is longer or more than the others,” he said yesterday during the graft trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng.

Ooi, 49, said he did not know that BUCG was one of the companies submitting tenders for the project.

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

Daewoo was involved in the building of a sea tunnel, the Busan-Geoje Bridge, an 8.2km bridge-tunnel that connects both places in South Korea.

Ooi had been shown minutes of three meetings between BUCG and officials from the Penang government.

When questioned about the minutes of the meetings, Ooi said that the technical issues, financial aspects, and the project’s scope had been discussed.

Ooi also said that the Penang or Malaysian government did not go to South Korea to view the mega projects by Daewoo.

When questioned by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin, Ooi said BUCG received 93 marks out of 100 for the RFP while the second-placed tenderer got 77 marks; WCT-Daewoo recei-ved 59 marks.

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

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

He, however, agreed after a barrage of questions from Gobind that there were no specific details of the project in the meetings.

Ooi also agreed that from the documents alone, one could not build the roads and tunnel.

He however said that discussions about the scope of the project was an advantage.

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

Ooi also said he wasn’t aware of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed between BUCG and the Penang state government in relation to the project.

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

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 had meetings with Lim several times, when the latter was still the Penang chief minister.

The trial resumes today.

BUCG is a large-scale construction company from China that entered into Consortium Zenith BUCG to win the tender for the Penang Undersea Tunnel project in 2013. It pulled out in 2017 and the corporation was then renamed Consortium Zenith Construction.

Lim, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the construction of the 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 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, he is accused of soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project.

He is charged with committing 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, Komtar, on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

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