Initial contract for Penang undersea tunnel project contained huge error, says witness

KUALA LUMPUR: There was a huge mistake in the content of the preliminary agreement for the privatisation of the major roads and undersea tunnel project in Penang, the Sessions Court here heard on Friday (Nov 12).

Former state legal adviser Datuk Faiza Zulkifli said the mistake involved the parcels of land, which were the main items stated in the document.

"I can say that this was a huge mistake as there were also small mistakes in the form of typos and statements on the parcels of land,” she said, referring to the preliminary agreement for the privatisation of the major roads and undersea tunnel project between the state government and Consortium Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group Sdn Bhd dated Oct 29, 2013.

In reply to deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, the witness said the mistake was when the agreement incorrectly identified the parcels of state government-owned land to be transferred to the developers.

The prosecution’s 11th witness was testifying in former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial.

Lim is facing four charges relating to the undersea tunnel and major roads construction project in the state worth RM6.3bil.

"I’m very thorough in my work, and the Penang state government officers know it, and I would have ensured that no such thing would occur so as to protect the state government’s interests,” Faiza said.

However, she said it was inappropriate for her to make comments on the contents of the agreement as she was not involved in checking and evaluating the document.

"There was no instruction from any quarter, be it the former chief minister or the State Secretary’s Office, for the document to be sent for review by the state legal adviser," she said.

When reading her witness statement, Faiza said she did not check the draft of the agreement in question as the then chief minister (Lim) had opted to appoint a private legal firm to evaluate it.

"I accepted the decision to appoint the private legal firm ... but the chief minister should have also entrusted the legal firm with the responsibility to protect the state government’s interests.

"I only knew that the document was prepared by legal firm Lee Hishamuddin Allen & Gledhill," she said.

In Friday's proceedings, the prosecution also submitted the death certificate of Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng, who fell from a high-end condominium at Jalan Kelawai, Penang on Oct 5.

The prosecution was supposed to call the 53-year-old developer as their 15th witness.

According to the first amended charge, Lim, 60, is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to obtain a bribe of RM3.3mil for helping a company owned by Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

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

On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting bribes amounting to 10% of the profits from Zarul to be earned by the company as gratification for helping his (Zarul's) company to secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, between 12.30am and 2am sometime in March 2011.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, faces two charges of causing two plots of land, worth RM208.8mil and belonging to the Penang government, to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Komtar, on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The trial before judge Azura Alwi continues on Nov 29. – Bernama
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