Guan Eng trial: July 2018 media remarks on Penang undersea tunnel project were fabricated, prosecution witness tells court

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 A key prosecution witness in Lim Guan Eng's corruption trial admitted in the Session Court today to fabricating press remarks he had made on being conned by individuals linked to the Barisan Nasional administration over a graft probe against his company implicated in the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Testifying as the 23rd prosecution witness, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli conceded that the statements he issued to selected media in a July 2018 interview were only truths 'at that point in time'.

Zarul Ahmad said this under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo after the latter produced an article by news portal Free Malaysia Today in relation to the former's interview back in 2018.

In the July 2018 press remark, Zarul Ahmad was quoted as saying, "It is like putting a gun to our head. We were conned into it in that sense", further stating the change in government was a "breath of fresh air” and an unshackling over what he claimed were politically motivated attacks against him and the company.

When asked to clarify what he meant by 'at that point in time', Zarul Ahmad said he had made those remarks with the intention of shielding the former chief minister from any criminal implications over graft allegations levelled against his company.

Gobind: You said in these articles, everything Lim Guan Eng did was above board, no corruption, no hanky-panky, when you said it, was it true correct?

Zarul Ahmad: Yes. If there was no investigation by the MACC I would not implicate YB Lim Guan Eng at all.

Gobind: And now you changed your story because MACC investigated you?

Zarul Ahmad: Yes.

Today, Zarul Ahmad testified in court that the individuals who claimed to be the "powers that be” were those with links with the BN federal government and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The witness previously told the court he was instructed by Lim to issue media statements for the purpose of discrediting a RM22 million graft allegation levelled against the company back in July 2018.

"I received instructions from Lim to issue statements in the press so that the graft investigations against me are made to look... as if I was under coercion when I had my statement taken by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission,” Zarul Ahmad testified.

Malay Mail was among several news outfits that previously reported the July 2018 press remarks issued by Zarul Ahmad.

When cross examined further on whether he was now admitting to lying in the media interview, Zarul Ahmad replied in the affirmative.

Gobind: So you lied to the press?

Zarul Ahmad: Yes.

Gobind: You lied to the people of Penang?

Zarul Ahmad: Yes.

Gobind: And you lied to the Penang state government?

Zarul Ahmad: Yes.

Gobind: You are not only a convicted person, but a person who is prepared to lie?

Zarul Ahmad: I disagree. I have no opportunity to explain.

Zarul Ahmad was previously charged under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act after pleading guilty to granting unsecured credit facilities beyond the stipulated statutory limitations in 1994.

Still under cross-examination, Zarul Ahmad again rubbished an article by controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin over a purported MACC statement posted on the latter's Malaysia Today website that went viral online in March 2019.

Zarul Ahmad had previously given similar evidence during his examination-in-chief in court.

Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister back then to receive a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping the company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office on the 28th floor of Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.

For the second amended charge, Lim is alleged to have solicited from Zarul Ahmad 10 per cent of the profit to be gained by the company in appreciation of obtaining the project.

Lim is accused of committing this offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur, in March 2011.

The DAP politician who is both Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman is also facing two other charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies claimed to be connected to the undersea tunnel project.

He is charged with committing the offences at the Penang Land and Mines Department on the 21st floor of Komtar on February 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.

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