'Politicians received kickbacks'


GEORGE TOWN: SEVERAL politicians are believed to have received a significant amount of money in the approval process for the proposed undersea tunnel project in Penang. The shocker was among the preliminary findings of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation into the controversial project, which has cast the spotlight on the DAP-led state government. Sources believed that the high amount was given as kickbacks. “There are politicians who received between tens of thousands and several million ringgit for their cooperation.

NST’s front-page story on the Penang undersea tunnel project yesterday.

“We are trying to trace how the wrongdoings were committed and the payments made. “They may be linked to the two plots of land involved in the land swap deal as payment for the studies, which are of high value,” the sources said. The sources, however, declined to reveal the identities of the politicians, but said they might have vested interests in the project. The sources also said graft-busters were recording statements from important witnesses to strengthen their case. “These witnesses will be able to answer how the wrongdoings were committed and payments made,” the sources said. The sources said key individuals, believed to be involved in the project, would be called up soon to have their statements taken.


MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki declined to comment on the latest development. However, he said, MACC had raided 43 locations, including consultant offices and government agencies, in Penang and the Klang Valley. “Like I said, give us some time to investigate. This matter involves technical issues which we need to look into thoroughly to complete our investigation.”

MACC has recorded statements from 76 witnesses. On Thursday, sources close to the investigation revealed that the commission had found new leads in its probe. Two company officials, with the title Datuk, were detained and later released on bail. The tunnel project had raised controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies, as well as the 21-month delay in completing them. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd