Wed. May 29th, 2024

MCA deputy president Wee Kia Siong said in his reply to my earlier comment that I was like a “drowning man clutching straws” in that I was making a kind of last-ditch effort to defend the “scandalous” Penang tunnel project.

He advised me to “stay out of it” as I might be dragged into the scandal.

As a member of the Penang state government, I have every right to defend its policies. I am not blindly supporting the government because the allegations that are constantly hurled against it are petty half-truths, fabrications, distortions and outright lies.

I am not “drowning” and neither my party nor the political coalition to which I belong to have to resort to the desperate tactic of “grabbing at straws” to defend the Penang tunnel project.

It is MCA and its politicians who are so desperate to stay relevant that they have to re-invent their “brilliance” before such a flare-up gets dissipated.

I would have respected Wee if he had taken a stand against the infamous 1MDB and other financial scandals that have plagued the country. He might not be involved, but he, like other senior BN politicians, has preferred to remain silent.

While I can understand that MCA wants to make a serious comeback after having misled the Chinese community for years, isn’t a bit too late for the MCA to ingratiate itself within the ranks of the Chinese community.

Serious and flawed allegations

Let me answer some of the serious allegations that Wee has raised. I believe that I might be inadvertently repeating things that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng or I might have touched earlier. Sometimes it is worth repeating to drive home the point!

First, Wee seriously erred in saying that the CRCC was a partner in the special purpose vehicle rather than a mere contractor. As it has been revealed by the Penang government, CRCC has signed a contract that has been duly signed and stamped. Wee insisted that CRCC was more than a contractor as it had an equity stake in the SPV. Is Wee ready to own up to his mistake?

Second, he made another serious allegation that with the exit of BUCG, the SPV brought in a local fashion company with no experience in transport infrastructure as an equity partner with Consortium Zenith. This has been explained a few times, but the problem is that Wee refuses to listen to what we have to say.

Regarding the 40 percent share held by nominees, is he telling us that some mysterious companies have come to determine the nature of events in Penang?

Third, Wee has asked why the Penang government failed to cancel the agreement with the SPV for having diluted its shares. Is it a normal practice in the industry that if there was a dilution of shares as a result of the exit of some shareholders, then the earlier agreement becomes null and void? Is this logical?

Fourth, the issue of pre-selling 50 acres of land rights to SPV and the subsequent sale to the listed company resulting in millions of profit. As we have pointed out numerous times, there was no such thing as pre-selling of land rights to Consortium Zenith. It serves no purpose to go into this fictitious and bizarre allegation.

And finally, Wee has posed the question that if the cost to produce reports for the roads is around RM120 million (with the project cost being RM377 million), why do the reports for the undersea tunnel project (which costs RM3.6 billion) reach RM96 million, for a project that is much more costly and complicated?

I am not sure from where Wee obtained the figure of RM120 million. It must be a figment of his creative imagination. We have always maintained that the cost of the detailed design and feasibility study for the three major roads and the tunnel amounted to RM305 million and not as erroneously stated by Wee.

‘Non-level playing field’

The serious allegations waged against the Penang state government and the SPV seem to take place on a “non-level playing field”.

MACC’s involvement in the investigation has emboldened Wee and other BN leaders to think that the Penang state government could “be brought to its knees” by this combined investigative and political assault.

Sadly, MACC detects a tiny speck far away but misses the “elephant” in front of its eyes.

Let the people of Penang judge whether the state government is telling the truth or hoodwinking the public. The D-Day is not too far off for them to make their ultimate decision.

For having ruined the state for more than 50 years, it is not for politicians in BN to tell the people of Penang what is good or bad for them.

I seriously doubt that they are prepared to give political parties like Umno, MCA, Gerakan or MIC another chance in Penang.

While the people of Penang are the ultimate judge, the state government is not going to merely absorb whatever that is being dished out to them from politicians who have little or no credibility.