GEORGE TOWN: The state government should not interfere with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation into the controversial proposed undersea tunnel project, Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications (BNSC) said today.
BNSC deputy director Datuk Eric See-To said the DAP-led administration should not pre-empt or interfere with MACC’s investigation by issuing statements that confused the people.
“Let MACC do its job. If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear,” he said.
Referring to news reports that the Penang government had said that they had not paid a single sen to the contractors for the project, See-To asked what about the two parcels of land given in a land swap deal.
“While technically true as the payment was not in cash, it ignores the fact that payment has indeed been made by the state government in the form of state land given to the contractors.
“This was confirmed by the chief minister (Lim Guan Eng) who said that the payment was done by transferring state land to the developers — totalling 1.49ha at a value of RM1,300 per sq ft which he claimed is above market price,” he pointed out.
See-To said market value was also a function of what development plans had been approved by the state government, and such approvals, including conversion of land and development density, could greatly increase the market value of the land after it was given away.
That, he said, was why land prices as high as RM3,000psf and RM4,000psf were regularly transacted in Kuala Lumpur.
“These two pieces of land given as payment by the Penang government are prime seaside freehold land at the exclusive Seri Tanjung Pinang neighbourhood.
“The land payments have already been made even though the full RM305 million reports have yet to be completed and not a single road or tunnel construction has yet to start,” he added.
He also added that in the case of the first piece of land, measuring 1.49ha, the Penang government had granted development approval shortly after giving the land to the contractors, which increased the development density to 156 units per acre from the 30 units per acre limit that had previously been in effect in that area several years ago.
“Such a move significantly increases the market value of the land.
“As a result, sales and construction had already started in 2015 on two 39-storey condominium blocks with a gross development value of RM800 million, where the developers have gone on record to say they will make RM200 million in gross profits — a profit margin of 25 per cent.
“If the land was indeed over-priced, then the developers would not have been able to develop a project of this value and with such a good profit margin,” he said.
Yesterday, Lim said the state government had not paid a single sen for the feasibility studies of the tunnel project, stressing that they had only paid by land swap for the three paired roads project.
The 7.2km undersea tunnel, which was awarded to Consortium Zenith, was part of a RM6.3 billion project, which included the three paired roads.
The feasibility studies for the tunnel were delayed for 21 months, and in October last year, Consortium Zenith claimed there was no hurry to complete the studies as the project was only expected to begin in 2023.
The three paired roads consist of a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, a 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and a 4.075km Gurney Drive – Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.
On Tuesday, the MACC raided four state agencies and three companies in its probe into the project. Two company directors, who are datuks, were arrested to assist in investigation.
Yesterday, the MACC raided 12 premises in Penang and Kuala Lumpur as investigation intensified.
Last July, Parti Cinta Malaysia deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan submitted what he claimed was “evidence of malfeasance” related to the project. Last week, he submitted new evidence to the