The finance minister says there is no document to support the former prime minister’s statement.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says former prime minister Najib Razak did not address the principal issues.

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today denied former prime minister Najib Razak’s claims that China had committed to import goods worth US$2 trillion (about RM8 trillion) as part of the two pipeline agreements worth RM9.4 billion.

Lim said nothing of the sort was documented.

“All officials asked have stated that these claims by Najib are untrue,” he said.

There was no mention of the various “commitments” made by China as claimed by Najib in any of the Cabinet papers presented in 2016 and 2017, which approved the Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER) projects, Lim said in a statement today.

“Unless, of course, that there are certain hidden Cabinet papers or ‘red’ Cabinet minutes that no one has access to except the former prime minister himself,” he said.

Najib, who was also the former finance minister, issued a statement on June 5, defending his administration’s award of two petrochemical and gas pipeline projects worth RM9.4 billion to China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPPB) by SSER.

“Najib deliberately did not focus on the principal questions surrounding the RM9.4 billion pipeline scandal but instead focused on alleged purported benefits to the country from signing this RM9.4 billion contract,” Lim said.

Najib claimed that he and China’s Premier Li Keqiang had witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the pipeline projects along with other projects while in Beijing on May 14, 2017.

China had apparently also committed to import goods worth US$2 trillion over the next five years from Malaysia, invest up to US$150 billion in Malaysia and offer 10,000 places for training and studies in various institutes in China as part of the pipeline deal.

“We have also discovered that for some reason, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects and the SSER projects were always presented together in the same Cabinet paper by Abdul Rahman Dahlan, the then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Cabinet approval,” Lim said.

This, he said, raised red flags as the ECRL and the SSER projects were vastly different in nature and business, involving different companies, contractors and geography, even if they were financed by the same China EXIM Bank.

“Najib has deliberately refused to respond to the principal question of this RM9.4 billion scandal as to why payment of RM8.3 billion, which is equivalent to 88% of the project value, was made even though only 13% of progressive work had been completed.

“Why did he permit such disbursement to be made within the first year of a three-year contract?

“A total of 88% of the funds had been disbursed despite the Multi-Product Pipeline (MPP) and Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) projects recording only 14.5% and 11.4% progress completion, respectively, as at the end of March 2018, or an average of 13%,” Lim said, adding that the above completion rates had yet to be verified or audited.

The MPP, costing RM5.35 billion, involved a 600km multi-product petroleum pipeline connecting Melaka and Port Dickson to Jitra.

The RM4.06 billion TSGP involved the construction of a 662km gas pipeline from Kimanis Gas Terminal to Sandakan and Tawau.

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