KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — A key prosecution witness in the corruption trial of Lim Guan Eng told the Sessions Court here today that the former Penang chief minister elevated his status to a successful Bumiputera businessman by granting his company the contract to build its proposed undersea tunnel in 2013.
Testifying as the 23rd prosecution witness, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli went as far as to express his indebtedness to Lim for the project, even though it has yet to be built.
He also denied that he had made a witness statement that went viral online in March 2019 and which controversial blogger blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin attributed to him about the project, pointing out there was no official signature on the document.
“I have no malicious motives against YB Lim and never once made up stories or issued false remarks in regards to my statement.
“In fact, I am indebted to YB Lim for the awarding of the mega project by the Penang state government where I was lifted from someone unknown to a prominent businessman,” he said in his witness statement here.
Zarul Ahmad also testified handing RM200,000 to Lim between August 2013 and January 2014 as part of a 2011 pledge he made to give 10 per cent of future profits on the construction of three roads and an undersea tunnel in Penang.
He admitted in court that he is aware doing so was an offence, but defended his action, saying anyone in his position would repay the kindness of those who helped them.
“I also know that any act of asking for anything in return and giving money in connection with a project is also an offence as all of these things involve elements of corruption that are against the law,” he added.
Zarul Ahmad later said he was under tremendous stress after the proposed undersea tunnel project came to public attention from 2016.
He said the stress was so much he was prescribed medication to calm down.
He told the court his experience of being detained for 11 days for investigation into the scandal, noting that all the efforts to make the project a success was almost ruined in the process.
“I was unable to obtain bank loans and I lost the confidence of my business associates. My desire to prove my mettle as a Bumiputera businessman was destroyed completely,” he said.
But Zarul Ahmad said he never gave up despite the negative publicity.
As a result, he said he was able to regain the confidence of the business community.
“What is true is my testimony today and it is exactly as I have told the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2020,” he said.
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 solicit 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.