Did Anwar cancel Kulim Airport due to plethora of graft links?
SHAH ALAM - As the debate rages on between the Kedah and Federal governments over the cancellation of the RM7 bilion Kulim International Airport (KXP) project, Sinar Daily has discovered that a plethora of graft links may have contributed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's decision to shelve the mega project.
Documents obtained show the company which had signed a joint venture agreement with the Kedah government to develop the KXP is involved in 12 cases still being investigated under the Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA) by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Comission (MACC).
An MACC source confirmed that the documented cases were still active under the agency's investigations department, while the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) have also confirmed to an activist that the company was under their investigation.
In the joint venture agreement between the Kedah government and the company ECK Group, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was to be set up as the main owner and developer of the KXP project.
According to a statement by Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor on Aug 2, 2021, ECK would own 80 per cent of the SPV’s equity while the Kedah state government will own the remaining equity under the Kedah Development Corporation’s subsidiary, KXP AirportCity Holdings Sdn Bhd.
In question now is Sanusi's persistence in urging the Prime Minister to reinstate the Kedah Aerotropolis logistics hub project which includes the construction of KXP in Kuala Muda when the firm involved is being probed under AMLA, after Anwar had announced that the project would be discontinued during the tabling of Budget 2023 last Friday.
In fact, an activist who had exposed the matter in September 2021, also seeks explanations from the MACC as to the status of both the cases involving the company and a report she had lodged against Sanusi for his approval of the joint venture despite its graft links.
Pertubuhan Peneraju Insan chairman Indrani Selvakumar had also revealed on Sep 23, 2021, that the Penang-based company also had its accounts frozen by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) since 2012, while investigations were ongoing.
“How is it that a contract worth over RM7 billion was awarded to a company plagued with problems since 2012 and is still being probed by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), as well as the MACC?" said Indrani, when contacted.
“Did the state government not conduct any background checks? There’s something missing here."
On Feb 26, Muhammad Sanusi urged Prime Minister Anwar to approve the Kedah Aerotropolis logistics hub project.
He said the project, which is expected to cost RM7 billion, will be fully funded by the private sector and will not require any funds from the federal government.
Sanusi further said the project will have two main partners who will also serve as the state government's strategic associates in this development.
In a retabling of Budget 2023 by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the government announced the plans to expand and upgrade the Penang International Airport and Subang Airport here to attract more investors, traders and tourists.
Anwar said these plans will be far cheaper than building a new airport in Kulim, Kedah that will cost RM7 billion.
"The expansion proposal that will be led by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd is expected to benefit economic growth at a much lower cost than the proposal to build a new airport in Kulim which is estimated at RM7 billion," he said.