Reports in today’s papers claim that the construction of Changi Motorsports Hub will not be affected by the CPIB probe and that the track is still scheduled for completion by end of this year. Well, I guess we can all only sit around and speculate until the investigations are concluded.
However, that might take time and time is not a luxury for SG Changi at this point in time. I was just chatting to a prominent leader in our local motorsports scene today and he told me that regardless of what the CPIB investigation results are, he has lost faith in the company behind Changi Motorsports Hub.
This might deter potential partners who were initially interested in taking up shop space or committing projects to the track, as there is simply too much distrust and complications. Only time will tell if the track can come up on time.. fingers crossed!
Extracted from www.straitstimes.com:
Jan 7, 2011
Graft probe “won”t delay Motorsports Hub project”
Japanese director says project is on track for end-2011 completion
By Leonard Lim & Jonathan Wong
ONE of the leading figures behind the construction of the Changi Motorsports Hub insists the timescale for the project will not be affected and that it will be completed by the end of the year. This, despite news that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is probing those involved in the tender process, the latest blow to the $380 million project which has faced delays and other troubles since it was first announced in 2007. “Work will still go ahead,” Japanese businessman Moto Sakuma vowed yesterday. “We are still on track for the end-2011 completion date,” he added.
At the construction site off Changi Coast Road yesterday, a security guard denied The Straits Times entry but from the gate, signs of activity were visible, including a lorry that was spotted entering the compound. Mr Sakuma, one of four directors of the private sector winning consortium SG Changi, was not prepared to comment further. The other three directors are Mr Fuminori Murahashi, former Jurong Kart World owner Thia Yoke Kian, and Mr Eddie Koh.
The 41ha project has been hampered by delays from the start. The announcement of the Request for Proposals from interested parties was made only in March 2009, instead of the original date of May 2008. And despite a ground-breaking ceremony last July, SG Changi received its permit to start work only last month. The track is slated to flag off its first race by March or April next year.
SG Changi was named the winning bidder last March after beating two other bids – one from Singapore Agro Agriculture, and the other from Sports Services, which is backed by public-listed Haw Par Corporation. But since then there has been talk about the group being tight for cash, and it has also seen management changes. Mr Sakuma himself came on board last year, replacing former Japanese race driver Gengi Hashimoto after he left the group.
While spokesmen for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the Singapore Sports Council declined comment yesterday, others in the motorsports fraternity expressed shock. There were also concerns that the news may dent the country’s hopes of cementing itself as a regional motorsports centre.
Mr Tan Teng Lip, president of the Singapore Motor Sports Association, said investigations were still in progress and it was not the time to comment. “But if the charges are proven to be true, then of course it will have negative impact on Singapore’s reputation.” While not involved in the hub’s construction, Mr Tan helps SG Changi in dealing with the sport’s international bodies to ensure the track design meets their specifications. The hub, which can host any motor race except Formula One, plans to stage at least three international races every year, such as MotoGP and Japan”s Super GT, once completed.
Singapore’s leading race driver Melvin Choo expressed the wish of many racing fans in Singapore. He said: “I hope that whatever comes out of it, we are still on course for a circuit we can all be proud of.”
This was first published in The Straits Times.
Extracted from www.todayonline.com:
Business as usual at Changi Motorsports Hub
by Low Lin Fhoong and Ian De Cotta
Jan 07, 2011
SINGAPORE – It is business as usual despite dark clouds swirling overhead at the Changi Motorsports Hub, following reports of a probe by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) into possible irregularities in the tender for the $370 million project.
MediaCorp understands that Thia Yoke Kian, one of two shareholders at SG Changi, the consortium which was awarded the tender last year, is assisting the CPIB with the investigations, and had met them two months ago. The Singapore permanent resident led the group in their successful bid to build the track, but was dropped from the management team in July.
The other shareholder is executive chairman Fuminori Murahashi. Sources told MediaCorp that SG Changi has handed over its accounts and records to the CPIB, and is cooperating fully with the bureau. SG Changi said yesterday that the 41-ha mega development near Changi Airport remained on schedule for completion by the end of this year, with the first motor racing event to be held in April 2012.
In fact, SG Changi said it will meet V8 Supercars Australia chief executive officer Martin Whitaker today for initial discussions on bringing the popular international series to Singapore. Other world class events pencilled in include MotoGP and the world’s first electric car race.
Said SG Changi director and general manager Moto Sakuma: “I have no comment on the CPIB case. “Officially, it’s still all systems go, and the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.”
In March last year, SG Changi beat two other groups – Singapore Agro Agriculture and Sports Services – to clinch the tender to build the motorsports hub, which will include a 4-km FIM Grade 1 and FIA Grade 2 certified race tracks, a grandstand, karting track, a quarter-mile drag racing track, motor museum and 35,000 sq m of commercial space.
Media reports yesterday said the CPIB was looking into the matter, with a senior official at the Singapore Sports Council’s (SSC) motorsports industry development arm and others involved in the deal called up to assist with the investigations. Neither the SSC nor CPIB would comment on the issue.
This was first published in TODAY.