The Suicide of Malaysian contractor Lee Been Seen, the chief project officer of a World Bank-aided road project in Kerala, has become an embarrassment for the Left Front government. In his suicide note, Lee reportedly blamed the government officials and PWD ministry for harassing him and unnecessarily delaying payments to his firm.
Lee, chief project officer of PATI Bel, a joint venture between PATI of Malaysia and Bhageeratha Constructions, committed suicide in Kuala Lumpur after returning from Kerala. In two suicide notes, one addressed to the PATI director and other to his wife, Lee listed his “bitter experiences” at the hands of government officials and others in Kerala”.
The government, caught on the wrong foot, has shifted PWD secretary Gyanesh Kumar and asked the vigilance department to probe the financial irregularities in the project. Lee has named a number of officials including the PWD secretary in his suicide note. Enraged family members of Lee and his firm have already said that they will sue the state.
The Rs 16.32 billion Kerala State Transport Project was inked in 2002. Out of this, Rs 3.88 billion was funded by the state and the rest came from the World Bank. The work started in April 2003 and was supposed to be completed by April 2006. But, the project — which was to be completed in four phases — has come to a standstill in the first phase itself, with only 30 per cent of the work completed.
“Sub-contractors, workers and Lee’s firm put pressure on him, when the government failed to disburse funds on time. He told some us before leaving that he would be compelled to end his life if the issue was not settled soon,” one of his colleagues rued.