KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — The Sessions Court heard today that the late Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng was not under “duress” when initially questioned by investigators over the Penang undersea tunnel and paired roads project, a year before he made a confession allegedly implicated former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in corrupt practice over the RM6.3 billion project.
Ewe, who was also Ewein Bhd founder and executive chairman, had made the disclosure while having his statement taken at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Putrajaya headquarters between July 22 and July 24, 2020.
This disclosure was in contrast to another supplementary statement Ewe had provided to MACC on August 14, 2021, a year later, when the businessman told authorities he was slightly “worried” for his safety after the confession he made.
During cross-examination by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, the prosecution’s 27th witness and MACC recording officer Mohamad Hambia said Ewe made no mention of being “fearful” while having his statement recorded at the time.
In fact, Mohamad said he had also asked if Ewe was comfortable as per the standard operating procedure under the MACC Act, to which the latter had replied in the affirmative.
Gobind: When Ewe’s statement was being taken, was he asked if he was comfortable?
Mohamad: Yes he admitted he was comfortable.
Gobind: So he was not fearful?
Ewe, who was supposed to have been called in as one of the key prosecution witnesses, died after he reportedly fell from a luxury condominium in Jalan Kelawei, Penang, on October 5, 2021.
As for why he provided a contradictory statement from three previous oral statements he provided to investigators in July 2020, Ewe had told Mohamad’s colleague he knew Lim was “untouchable” during Pakatan Harapan’s reign when investigations into the undersea tunnel project had already commenced then.
In the same August 2021 recording session, Ewe was asked if he was coerced or threatened to provide his supplementary statement, to which he subsequently replied that he was not forced to do so and merely wanted to tell the truth.
Asked to read out Ewe’s statement and reply, Mohamad said the former admitted to obtaining knowledge of Lot 702 and Lot 713 — state-owned lands subject matter in Lim’s charges for dishonest misappropriation of property under Section 403 of the Penal Code from another individual, not Lim or Datuk Lim Hock Seng.
Hock Seng was a former Penang exco member in charge of public works, utilities, and transportation.
When asked by Gobind, Mohamad further said he had no knowledge of Ewe’s statement taken by his colleague in August 2021.
According to the first amended charge, Lim, 60, is accused of using his position as then Penang chief minister to obtain a bribe of RM3.3 million for helping a company owned by Zarul Ahmad secure the construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar in George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.
On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting bribes amounting to 10 per cent of the profits from Zarul Ahmad to be earned by the company as gratification for helping his (Zarul) company secure the project.
The offence was allegedly committed near The Garden Hotels, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.
The Bagan MP also faces two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies linked to the undersea tunnel project between February 2015 and March 2017.
The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Level 21, Komtar on February 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.
The hearing resumes on June 23.