Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rahman Dahlan: Guan Eng 'beating about the bush' with tunnel answers

The answers provided by the Penang state government in response to the many questions related to the Penang undersea tunnel remain unsatisfactory, said Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

Abdul Rahman, also Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, said the responses to his queries appeared to be “beating about the bush” and “irresponsible”.

He pointed out that the answers given were unsatisfactory despite Penang Works Committee chairman and Bagan Jermal assemblyman Lim Hock Seng’s media statements and press conference on May 25.

“On three occasions I had asked whether it was true that the land given to Consortium Zenith-BUCG (CZBUCG) was immediately sold or agreed to be sold at prices between RM845 psf to RM1,300 psf. I also cited proof of such an agreement,” Abdul Rahman said in a statement.

“Instead of giving me a proper answer, YB Lim persisted with his insistence that the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) valuation had valued the land in question at RM475 psf - and left it at that. Upon being pressed a fourth time, YB Lim then gave the surprising answer that any sale of land between CZBUCG and third-parties were 'private transactions',” he said.

Abdul Rahman said he found the answer “irresponsible” as the Penang DAP government had already paid in part and had agreed to transfer state land to the private company.

“That company then immediately signed to sell the land to another company at prices up to three times higher than the JPPH valuation. This was the very same valuation that YB Lim insisted was the land value. He then brushed me off by saying that sale were 'private transactions',” said Abdul Rahman.

Abdul Rahman also pointed out that the Penang government seemed to be paying for the full construction cost of the project, but still allowed the company to collect on a 30-year toll concession.

“I then suggested that this was an unprecedented arrangement never before seen in any other concession agreement in Malaysia - or the world,” he said.

“When asked if the full construction cost was paid for via the land transfer, YB Lim gave differing answers. At first he said the reason was that the Penang government had no expertise in maintaining the tunnel. In a later press statement, however, he said the company was also funding the construction cost and that it needed the toll revenue to recover their investment,” said Abdul Rahman.

He added that when pressed even further, Guan Eng "flip-flopped" in announcing that he may consider dropping the tunnel project to save RM2bil and do away with the 30-year toll if the Federal Government approves a third bridge instead.

“This is indeed a bizarre turn of events. At first, YB Lim (Guan Eng) had accused the Federal Government of not approving a third bridge. But when the Works Minister denied that there was any such application or request from the Penang government, YAB Lim said it was because he was not brave enough to send the request in the first place,” he said.

Abdul Rahman explained that Guan Eng subsequently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister instead of the Works Ministry, which is the usual process, to seek approval for a third bridge.

“However, he refuses to submit any documents to support his application. This highly-politicised application letter, together with the refusal to submit any documents to support the application leads us to conclude that YAB Lim (Guan Eng) is not sincere about the third bridge,” he said.

“According to YAB Lim, the Penang Government had to impose 30-year toll at the same rate as the Second Penang Bridge in order not to sabotage the Second Penang Bridge.

"Now that he is proposing a third bridge without tolls, does it mean that his position has changed and that now doesn’t mind ‘sabotaging’ the Second Penang Bridge?” he said.

No comments: