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Rahman Dahlan: Guan Eng 'beating about the bush' with tunnel answers

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 01:42 AM PDT

The answers provided by the Penang state government in response to the many questions related to the Penang undersea tunnel remain unsatisfactory, said Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

Abdul Rahman, also Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, said the responses to his queries appeared to be "beating about the bush" and "irresponsible".

He pointed out that the answers given were unsatisfactory despite Penang Works Committee chairman and Bagan Jermal assemblyman Lim Hock Seng's media statements and press conference on May 25.

"On three occasions I had asked whether it was true that the land given to Consortium Zenith-BUCG (CZBUCG) was immediately sold or agreed to be sold at prices between RM845 psf to RM1,300 psf. I also cited proof of such an agreement," Abdul Rahman said in a statement.

"Instead of giving me a proper answer, YB Lim persisted with his insistence that the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) valuation had valued the land in question at RM475 psf - and left it at that. Upon being pressed a fourth time, YB Lim then gave the surprising answer that any sale of land between CZBUCG and third-parties were 'private transactions'," he said.

Abdul Rahman said he found the answer "irresponsible" as the Penang DAP government had already paid in part and had agreed to transfer state land to the private company.

"That company then immediately signed to sell the land to another company at prices up to three times higher than the JPPH valuation. This was the very same valuation that YB Lim insisted was the land value. He then brushed me off by saying that sale were 'private transactions'," said Abdul Rahman.

Abdul Rahman also pointed out that the Penang government seemed to be paying for the full construction cost of the project, but still allowed the company to collect on a 30-year toll concession.

"I then suggested that this was an unprecedented arrangement never before seen in any other concession agreement in Malaysia - or the world," he said.

"When asked if the full construction cost was paid for via the land transfer, YB Lim gave differing answers. At first he said the reason was that the Penang government had no expertise in maintaining the tunnel. In a later press statement, however, he said the company was also funding the construction cost and that it needed the toll revenue to recover their investment," said Abdul Rahman.

He added that when pressed even further, Guan Eng "flip-flopped" in announcing that he may consider dropping the tunnel project to save RM2bil and do away with the 30-year toll if the Federal Government approves a third bridge instead.

"This is indeed a bizarre turn of events. At first, YB Lim (Guan Eng) had accused the Federal Government of not approving a third bridge. But when the Works Minister denied that there was any such application or request from the Penang government, YAB Lim said it was because he was not brave enough to send the request in the first place," he said.

Abdul Rahman explained that Guan Eng subsequently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister instead of the Works Ministry, which is the usual process, to seek approval for a third bridge.

"However, he refuses to submit any documents to support his application. This highly-politicised application letter, together with the refusal to submit any documents to support the application leads us to conclude that YAB Lim (Guan Eng) is not sincere about the third bridge," he said.

"According to YAB Lim, the Penang Government had to impose 30-year toll at the same rate as the Second Penang Bridge in order not to sabotage the Second Penang Bridge.

"Now that he is proposing a third bridge without tolls, does it mean that his position has changed and that now doesn't mind 'sabotaging' the Second Penang Bridge?" he said.

Najib trades suit for hoodie

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 12:41 AM PDT

It was a light-hearted moment at the Wild Digital Conference when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak traded his suit for a hoodie and shared his passion for music, food and social media.

Some 450 of Southeast Asia's leading digital entrepreneurs, investors and top senior executives had a pleasant surprise when the Prime Minister readily agreed to don a hoodie with the words '#DABOSS' on the back.

Catcha Group's co-founder Patrick Grove presented the hoodie to Najib on stage before the start of a 40-minute question and answer session to mark the launch of the conference.

Grove, the chairman of Iflix, candidly threw questions to Najib including if he bought anything online lately.

"Yes I bought some music from iTunes but I'm not going to tell you what songs they are," Najib said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Najib went on to say that he enjoyed 'Motown' and music from the 1970s but also like to listen to contemporary singers such as Bruno Mars.

Grove, who kept the pace of questions lively, asked Najib of his experiences of getting a drive with US president Barack Obama in his personal limousine the 'Beast' and meeting Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"I was told that apart from his wife, the only two persons who ever rode in the Beast with Obama was you and Jerry Seinfeld," Grove said.

Najib quipped that the "Beast" was more comfortable than a Proton and bullet and bomb-proof car had room to hold a conference for four people.

On his experience with Zuckerberg during his trip to the United States, Najib jokingly said that he thought that Zuckerberg didn't look very smart in his appearance owing the casual style of dressing and work pace of those working in the IT industry there.

"My initial reaction, he doesn't look very smart. But actually, he is very smart. He is super smart but doesn't look very smart.

"But when you talk to him, you begin to realise that this guy (Zuckerberg) has really got it in him," Najib said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Grove also quipped that Najib beat Obama, British prime minister David Cameron and Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong in tweeting, although a lot of it were about food.

Najib replied that although he had a media team to handle his social media posting, he would personally tweet if time permits.
Grove later invited Najib to pose for a selfie with the crowd. Najib later tweeted: 'Rocking at Wild Digital @PatrickGrove in my new hoodie #daboss #boom'.

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