Undersea tunnel fiasco: Guan Eng deflects issue on viral photo

MOHAMED BASYIR

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has attempted to deflect the controversy surrounding a picture of him with a businessman who is under a graft investigation by resorting to a tit for tat move, showing a picture of the same businessman with The Star Group chief executive officer. Lim, who has come under fire after a photo of him and the businessman made the rounds on social media last week, turned up at a press conference today and showed reporters the picture of the businessman with The Star Media Group (SMG) group managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and another person. He claimed to have many more photographs which showed the businessman - who has a Datuk Seri title, with other VIPs, including ministers. The photograph of Lim together with the businessman - who was detained by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) over the Penang undersea tunnel project, went viral last week. Since then, Lim has been piled with pressure by those demanding to know his relationship with the businessman - who was detained over allegations of receiving RM19 million to get MACC off its investigations into the project. The Chief Minister’s Office has since responded by saying that it was a disgusting attempt to smear the chief minister. Meanwhile, Wong in a statement said the photo of him with the businessman was taken at a public function during the StarProperty.my Real Estate Awards Night 2017 (SREA 2017) held at Nexus Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur on Aug 8, last year. The event was organised by Star Property, which is a subsidiary of SMG. He said as a known media practitioner and the CEO of SMG, he met with kinds of people in the course of his work. “Many times, I am asked for photographs to be taken with them, most of which are unknown to me. “I do not know this particular person implicated. This particular photo of me shown by the Chief Minister was taken on the awards night.” Wong also hit back at Lim by stating that as could be seen in the photo, there were more than two persons present and that it was a public function and not in anyone's private residence. “I was dressed in my black dinner jacket and for sure was wearing my shoes when that particular photo was taken,” he said, in an apparent refence to Lim’s photograph with the Datuk Seri, which showed both did not have their shoes on, leading critics to question if it was true the photo was taken in the businessman’s private residence. Meanwhile, Parti Cinta Malaysia’s (PCM) deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan labelled Lim’s latest attempt by dragging someone who was not even a politician into the issue as a “really desperate” move. “Wong is certainly not the chief minister and he definitely cannot give you any project in Penang. “In future, I hope Lim uses better excuses rather than showing this kind of photographs which makes him looks stupid,” said Huan. The controversial proposed RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of feasibility studies as well as the 22-month delay in completing it. It was reported that the businessman was arrested recently to assist in a RM19 million graft case in connection with the Penang undersea tunnel project. It is understood that the suspect had received the staggering sum from a construction company linked to the project after claiming that he was able to slam the brakes on the investigation carried out by MACC. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd