Thursday, August 13

Najib ordered purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel, witness tells court


KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told yesterday that former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad was instructed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to proceed with the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites in Kuching, Sarawak, despite the proposal on the hotel purchase having been rejected by the board of directors of Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB).

Mohd Isa’s former special officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, 53, when reading out his witness statement, said Mohd Isa was instructed to proceed with the hotel purchase through a phone call by the former prime minister in March 2014 when he was at the Parliament lobby.

Muhammad Zahid said he overheard Mohd Isa said during the telephone conversation that the FICSB board of directors had rejected the proposal, but that he (Mohd Isa) would proceed with it as instructed.

“After that, Mohd Isa turned to me and said: ‘Yid (Muhammad Zahid), the prime minister (Najib) has ordered (me) to reopen (the case on the hotel purchase)… now, (I) need to call up Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil (FICSB chief executive officer)’.

“I was shocked and asked Tan Sri Isa whether he was certain that the instruction came from the PM (prime minister). I know that Tan Sri Isa was referring to the then- prime minister,” he added.

Muhammad Zahid, who is the 21st prosecution witness, said that the following day, after the meeting between Mohd Zaid and Mohd Isa, he went to see Mohd Zaid.

“I asked Zaid: ‘How are you going to reopen it, when the BOD (board of directors) has already rejected it?’. Mohd Zaid replied: ‘What to do, it’s an instruction from the PM, we have to do it’ and I said, ok’,” he added.

Muhammad Zahid, who was Mohd Isa’s special officer for six years since 2011, said while he was at the Felda office, Mohd Isa had asked whether Ikhwan Zaidel, a former member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd board of directors, had contacted him.

“Tan Sri Isa asked me whether I got a call from ‘Sarawak’, which I knew referred to Ikhwan and Ibrahim Baki. I replied ‘no’ and Tan Sri Isa said ‘give them a call, send my regards’. — Bernama