No intent to fabricate testimony due to debt of gratitude to Guan Eng, says star witness

Guan Eng is accused of using his position as the then Penang chief minister in soliciting a 10% cut in the profits of the project from Zarul. The DAP chairman is also accused of accepting RM3.3 million in bribes from the businessman. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

Guan Eng is accused of using his position as the then Penang chief minister in soliciting a 10% cut in the profits of the project from Zarul. The DAP chairman is also accused of accepting RM3.3 million in bribes from the businessman. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 27): The star witness in former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s undersea tunnel graft trial on Wednesday (July 27) claimed that he had no intent to fabricate his testimony, due to the debt of gratitude he owes the accused.

In response to Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin's line of questioning, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (ZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, the 23rd prosecution witness in Guan Eng’s graft trial, claimed that if he had the choice, he would not want to implicate Guan Eng in any way.

Wan Shaharuddin: In this case, you told the court that in early March 2011, you entered into a deal with Guan Eng to be awarded this project, and he requested 10% of [the project’s] profits, correct?

Zarul: Yes. 

Wan Shaharuddin: You entered into a deal with Guan Eng, and were awarded the project in the end. [So,] would there be a reason for you to fabricate your testimony against Guan Eng?

Zarul: I have no intention to fabricate [my testimony] because I owe a large debt of gratitude to Guan Eng, and, if possible, would not want in any way [to] implicate him in this case.

The witness also noted that he knew his company received a high score during the tendering process of the undersea tunnel project due to the “head start” they were given via Guan Eng’s assistance.

Prior to this exchange, Zarul said that he used dummy invoices to take out ZCSB money, so that Guan Eng's name would not pop up in the money trail and thus ensure that the latter would not be implicated.

Additionally, Zarul alleged that after his 11-day Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission remand linked to the undersea tunnel project, he told former ZCSB senior vice-president of finance and corporate services Azli Adam and former senior executive Ibrahim Sahari that company money taken out was for bribery payment to Guan Eng.

Meanwhile, in relation to two media statements he had given, Zarul alleged that Guan Eng had “instructed” him to give the statements to imply that he was forced to give his statement to the anti-graft body.

In the early stages of Wednesday’s proceedings, a whole slew of opposition Members of Parliament (MPs), namely PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah binti Wan Ismail, DAP's Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer, and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, were sighted to be spectating the trial from the public gallery of the courtroom. 

In December last year, Zarul testified that he and the former Penang chief minister had entered into a deal, whereby the witness would secure the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project, while the accused would receive a 10% cut in the profits of the project.

Guan Eng is accused of using his position as the then Penang chief minister in soliciting a 10% cut in the profits of the project from Zarul. The DAP chairman is also accused of accepting RM3.3 million in bribes from the businessman.

Guan Eng, who is the Bagan MP, also faces two counts of dishonest misappropriation of property, namely in releasing two plots of state-owned land to Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd, two companies linked to the same undersea tunnel project.

The trial is slated to continue on Aug 4, with Zarul to be cross-examined by Guan Eng’s lead defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo.

Surin Murugiah