Ex exco member reveals Guan Eng wanted him to deal with BUCG on tunnel project
(NST) – A former Penang state executive councillor today exposed how he had been instructed by Lim Guan Eng to work with the Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) from day one even though the Penang undersea tunnel project was supposed to be awarded through open tender.
Former Penang Public Works, Utilities and Public Transportation committee chairman Datuk Lee Hock Seng revealed that Lim had in early 2011 instructed him to get in touch with Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli – the managing director of Consortium Zenith Construction, and BUCG’s local representative Lee Chee Hoe.
The former Bagan Jermal assemblyman said Lim gave him the duo’s mobile phone numbers with the instruction that they were interested in exploring the undersea tunnel project.
“I was told to contact them in relation to the tunnel project and I did so.
“Shortly after that the state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BUCG on the company’s interest to undertake the project. At that time BUCG had estimated it to cost about RM10 billion,” he said.
Lee, who has been a DAP member since the 1980s, said BUCG eventually invited Lim to visit its headquarters in China, following which the latter led a 10-member state delegation to Beijing.
The cost of the six day visit to China from June 2 to 8, 2011, he said, was fully borne by the Penang state government.
“The state government paid for our flight tickets, accommodation, food and drinks,” Lee said.
The 73-year-old was testifying as the third prosecution witness in Lim’s corruption trial. The DAP secretary general is, among other things, accused of soliciting a 10 per cent cut in profits from the tunnel project, from Zarul.
Lim, who is former Finance Minister, is also accused of seeking RM3.3 million in kickbacks to appoint Zarul’s company to undertake the project.
He also faces two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to two companies.
It was previously reported that BUCG, which is one of China’s largest construction companies, had been awarded the RM6.3 billion project to construct three main roads and the undersea tunnel after partnering with Zarul’s Consortium Zenith Sdn Bhd.
Lim’s administration had then said the consortium was awarded the contract after an open tender which attracted about 60 bids.
BUCG eventually withdrew from the partnership in 2016 after a fallout with the state government over a fatal crane accident which left a woman dead.
During today’s hearing, Lee also touched on two plots of state land which had changed hands as payment for a feasibility study conducted for the tunnel project.
He said the two plots on Lot 702 and 713 had been signed off by Lim apart from another RM31 million which was paid also for the feasibility study.
Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nik Haslini Hashim whether he was sure that the land swapped as payment did not belong to Lim, Lee said:
“No (it was not Lim Guan Eng’s land).”
Meanwhile, the noon session of the hearing today was adjourned after Lim’s lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo informed Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi that he needed to go for a Covid 19 swab test.
The lawyer said he had been informed that his secretary had tested positive for the virus and therefore he needed to get tested.
The trial continues.