KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 – A key prosecution witness in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial today said the former Penang chief minister appeared “ecstatic” when he heard that senior government officials in Malaysia and China would attend the signing ceremony of the RM6.3 billion Penang Undersea Tunnel Project in 2011.
Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group (CZBUCG) Consortium Managing Director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told the Court of Sessions today that the ceremony took place in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya, on April 28, 2011 .
Guests of honor at the time included Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, both witnesses upon signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
“YB Lim seemed delighted on the phone when informed as the MoU was to be signed in the presence of two prominent Heads of State at the time.
“I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m sure he was extremely thrilled. He said it would make some people blush,” Zarul Ahmad said.
He was then asked to clarify the term red-eye and explained that it was a Chinese metaphor often used to describe envy – similar to the English phrase “green-eyed”.
He added that he thought Guan Eng might have been referring to MCA leaders when questioned further. The ethnic Chinese party is part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and is seen as the political sworn enemy of Lim’s party, the DAP.
In his earlier testimony, Zarul Ahmad explained his role in facilitating the meeting between Chinese and Malaysian officials to sign the Memorandum of Understanding ahead of Wen’s official visit to Malaysia in 2011.
Zarul Ahmad previously testified in court that it was Guan Eng who suggested that an arrangement be made for Wen to attend the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between BUCG and the Penang government.
The MoU document explicitly declares BUCG’s interest in the design and construction tasks for three roadworks, including a 6.5 km undersea tunnel project.
CZBUCG had advantage over others in undersea tunnel project, witness claims
Following the signing of the MoU in April 2011, Zarul Ahmad said there were several bidders, including established companies such as Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) and IJM Corporation Berhad, who expressed interest in the megaproject, but only a handful managed to pass the pre-qualification (Pre-Q stage).
Pre-Q is a process of collecting and evaluating information that determines an entrepreneur’s capability, capability, resources, management processes, and performance.
“Although I got a lot of information about the project and thus have a head start through my meetings with YB Lim Hock Seng, including my personal involvement in the preparation of the Request for Proposals (RFP ), it was not yet determined whether my company would succeed in winning the tender,” said Zarul Ahmad.
Hock Seng – the Penang state executive councilor in charge of public works, utilities and transport at the time – previously testified that he received instructions from Guan Eng to contact Zarul Ahmad regarding a proposed construction of an underwater tunnel on January 26, 2011.
“I was made to understand that only two companies had prepared a very comprehensive offer, namely CZBUCG and VST Sdn Bhd.
“It was because I had pre-tender information where several meetings on the preparations for the tender took place which saw the exchange of many inputs from BUCG and the Government of the United States. ‘State of Penang for the eventual completion of the tender,’ Zarul Ahmad told the court today.
According to Zarul Ahmad, the information relating to the preparation of the request for proposals for the state government was obtained in 2011 before its possible disclosure to other bidders at least a year later.
“All of this early information that I obtained for myself and my company to meet the formal tender requirements that were not released to other bidders until July 2012,” he said. added.
The mega project was then awarded to Zarul Ahmad’s company, CZBUCG in January 2013. The Penang government then issued a letter of intent on February 6, 2013.
Guan Eng faces an amended charge of using his position as Penang Chief Minister at the time to receive a RM3.3 million bribe by helping the company owned by Zarul Ahmad obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.
The offense was allegedly committed at the office of the Chief Minister of Penang on the 28th floor of Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.
On the second amended count, Guan Eng is accused of having solicited from Zarul Ahmad 10% of the profit to be made by the company in recognition of obtaining the project.
Guan Eng is accused of committing the offense near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur in March 2011.
DAP politician who is both MP for Bagan and Member of Assembly for Air Putih is also facing two other charges of causing the surrender of two plots of land worth RM208.8 million owned by the Penang government to two companies allegedly connected to the undersea tunnel project. .
He is accused of committing the offenses at the Penang Lands and Mines Department on the 21st floor of Komtar on February 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.