Gerakan raps Penang over fishy undersea tunnel land swap deal


GEORGE TOWN: State opposition parties are piling pressure on the DAP-led Penang government over the controversial undersea tunnel and three paired roads project, which has come under scrutiny from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Penang Gerakan today questioned the state government’s method in paying for the feasibility studies of the three paired roads, which came at a cost of RM208 million.

“They decided to give the 20.23 acres of land in Tanjong Tokong to pay for the studies. The question is, how on earth can you give the land rights as the land does not even ‘exist’ yet.

“The land we are speaking of is being reclaimed at the moment. It is not fully reclaimed yet and the state government had struck a land swap deal to fund for the feasibility studies of that project.

“The land is still being reclaimed, so how can there be a land grant? Has the Penang government come up with new provisions that allows the land to be sold even without a land grant? The people have the right to know,” he said during a press conference today.

The RM6.3 billion project, which will feature a 7.2km undersea tunnel and three paired roads, is undertaken by Consortium Zenith.

The project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, including the high cost of the feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing them.

In July last year, Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Datuk Huan Cheng Guan submitted evidence to MACC of malfeasance related to the tunnel project.

He presented new evidence to the MACC to aid its probe last week.

MACC raided several state government offices in Komtar three times, which are involved in the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project, earlier this week.

Also raided in the operation were several companies with connections to the projec. Two Datuks were remanded to facilitate investigations.

Meanwhile, MCA claimed that the DAP-led Penang government lost out on RM410 million for failing to include a clause in the feasibility studies for the proposed undersea tunnel and three paired roads project.

State MCA secretary Tang Heap Seng said had the clause been included in the undersea tunnel land swap deal, the consultant company would have to give the state government 30 per cent of the land’s development value, which amounted to about RM410 million.

Tang said this was based on the assumption that the land parcel would be developed by a third party.

He said it was standard practice for the clause to be included in the deal if a state-owned land was earmarked for development.

“We arrived at the RM410 million figure based on the fact that 156 units per square feet density are allowed to be developed on the land. This is the amount that will have to be returned to the state government if the land is developed by a third party.

“Considering the 25 per cent profit margin, we estimate that each housing unit will be sold at a minimum of RM1.16 million,” he told reporters here today.

It was reported that the state government had given permission to increase the development density of the 0.4 hectares of land from 30 units to 156 units after the land was handed over to the consultant company.

It was also reported that the state government would hand over two plots of land measuring 2.29 hectares in Tanjung Tokong to fund the feasibility studies of the three paired roads.

Tang said the Penang government’s failure to include the ‘30 per cent clause’ would cause it to lose RM507 million once the proposed undersea tunnel project was completed.

“The projected total loss is derived from the total cost of the feasibility studies for the projects, which can be projected up to a difference of 655 per cent of its original value of RM305 million,” he added. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd