The Minister in the Prime Minister Department Wee Ka Siong questions the involvement of Vertice Bhd (formerly known as Voir Holdings Bhd) as a shareholder in the Penang tunnel project. He also asked why China’s companies such as Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) is not involved anymore, contrary to the initial announcement in 2013?
Vertice Bhd’s involvement is the result of the company’s business diversification. It is very common for businesses to diversify, venture into new industry, following the conglomerate business model.
Samsung began as a trucking business, providing transportation services. The company is now most famous for its smartphones, among its other involvement in construction, healthcare, and themepark businesses. Louis Vuitton started as manufacturer of travel trunk before becoming well-known as a luxury brand for clothing, jewellery, and wine producer.
Sime Darby Berhad, one of federal’s ‘Government-linked Companies’, had its beginning in the rubber business. Now, Sime Darby is a conglomerate corporation with businesses in healthcare, palm oil, hypermarket, logistics, and property development.
Minister Wee has no problem with Sime Darby but find faults with Vertice just because it is a project spearheaded by Penang state government under Pakatan Harapan. Either that or he is merely ignorant of conglomerate business model, which the federal government also adopts.
Regarding BUCG, indeed the company was involved in the tunnel project initially. However after the crane hook from a BUCG’s construction site in Kuala Lumpur fell and killed the 23 years old Penangite Chin Khoon Sing in 2016, the company was removed from the project.
At that time, the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has already stated that the state government does not want irreponsible contractor in the tunnel project.
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It may be perfectly fine for Minister Wee from MCA and BN to work with irresponsible contractors, but not so for Pakatan Harapan state government. Penang government cherishes Malaysian’s lives.
Joshua Woo Sze Zeng is municipal councillor at the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP)