Lim rebuts Najib's latest criticisms of tunnel project

10 Feb 2018 / 19:58 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has become puzzled as to why there was a sudden criticism by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak towards the proposed RM6.3 billion cross-channel undersea tunnel project in Penang.
Najib is reported to have stated that the tunnel was a waste of public funds, as the state already has two land bridges which connect the mainland to the island.
"We already have two bridges in Penang. There is no need to waste the rakyat's money to build the undersea tunnel," Najib said in his latest blog entry.
To this, Lim held a special press conference to rebut his critics. He said that Najib had become forgetful as he was a busy man.
Pointing to a photograph, Lim said that it was Najib, who had witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the state government and the China construction giant – Beijing Urban Construction Group.
The group has since left the project by mutual consent with the state and the project delivery partner, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.
"Najib shouldn't be calling the tunnel a waste of money since he was present at the MoU signing ceremony. If he was unhappy about it, he should have spoken."
Lim also alluded to the fact that the general election was near, hence there was an apparent need to be critical of everything good that the Opposition had done.
Najib's criticism comes on the heels of attacks hurled at the project by MCA and Gerakan, two Umno allies.
The criticism has been coming almost daily for the past six weeks, after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) reopened a probe into the mega project.
Since then, close to a dozen persons have either been detained or questioned in the course of the investigation, which centers on possible corruption.
The criticism seemed to be principally aimed at Zenith and its business partners, following claims that the state had accorded advanced payments to the company for its feasibility study and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the three highways, which was part of the tunnel package.
Lim had earlier dismissed the contentions by MCA and Gerakan as a distortion of the facts and lies.
Lim said that the undersea tunnel which connects Bagan Ajam in Butterworth with Gurney Drive on the island, will only begin operating sometime in 2027 as by then, the two current bridges would be operating at their maximum capacity.

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