KUALA LUMPUR: Former Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid told the High Court yesterday that Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor instructed him to speed up approval for the project to supply hybrid solar power to 369 rural schools in Sarawak worth RM1.25 billion to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Mahdzir, 59, said because Rosmah herself spoke to him, he felt compelled to take the instruction seriously because she was the Prime Minister’s wife and a person of influence and authority.
“Datin Seri Rosmah’s authority was proven when, as the Prime Minister’s wife, she dared instruct me as Education Minister to ‘look at” and ‘speed up’ the Jepak Holdings hybrid solar project,” he said at the second day hearing of Rosmah’s corruption trial of the solar project.
The fifth prosecution witness said Rosmah herself revealed her interest in the project to him.
Reading out his witness statement, Mahdzir said the incident happened on the night of June 23, 2016, after a breaking-of-fast meal at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Seri Perdana Complex, Putrajaya.
“When I met Datin Seri Rosmah before leaving, she more-or-less told me to “take a look at the Cikgu Aazmey solar project. Speed it up. I could only answer “yes, yes” as there were many people at that time.
“What I understand from Datin Seri Rosmah’s message was that she was instructing me to speed up the process of approving the solar hybrid project to Jepak.
This incident strengthened my belief about Datin Seri Rosmah’s involvement in “team Saidi” as Saidi once told me before,” he said.
Saidi Abang Samsudin is the managing director of Jepak Holdings.
Mahdzir said he knew the ‘Cikgu Aazmey’ was in reference to Datuk Aazmey Abu Talib, secretary of Pekan Umno division, Pahang and former Pahang Education Director.
He said Rosmah had never before contacted him about other government projects other than the hybrid solar project and Permata.
Mahdzir said he found out that Jepak had written a letter to Najib who forwarded it to the Government Procurement Division, Ministry of Finance, to speed up the process of approving the appointments through direct negotiations in the hybrid solar project.
“I also learnt that Datuk Seri Najib had given similar instructions to Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, then Treasury Secretary-General.
“To me, this showed that Datuk Seri Najib entertained Jepak, as if he had no faith in the Education Ministry to process the application for the hybrid solar project,” he said.
He said on Nov 1, 2016, he was informed that the Finance Ministry had approved the Education Ministry’s application to negotiate directly with Jepak.
Mahdzir said on Nov 8, 2016, he received instructions from Najib to issue the Letter of Award (LoA) to Jepak through the minutes noted in a letter from Jepak dated Nov 6, 2016 together with a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“This was a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office dated Nov 8, 2016 which I mentioned. I confirm that the contents of the letter were similar to what I received and took action on. I received both letters at my office. In reference to a letter from Jepak dated Nov 6, 2016, I confirm that Datuk Seri Najib had jotted on the top right corner of the letter.
“The minutes were directed at me, with the instruction “Immediately issue the LoA for the project according to the letter from Jepak Holdings”.
“The minutes were also signed by Datuk Seri Najib. I recognised his writing and signature as I am used to seeing them,” he said.
He added that according to his understanding, Najib had instructed him to immediately issue the LoA for the hybrid solar project to Jepak based on the proposals in the Jepak letter.
“When I received the letter, I feel as though I was being pressured by “team Saidi “ to immediately issue the LoA to Jepak.
“What I mean by ‘Team Saidi’ refers to Saidi, Rayyan (Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah who is Saidi’s business partner), Datin Seri Rosmah, Datuk Rizal Mansor and Datuk Aazmey,” he said.
The witness said that on Nov 9, 2016, from 1pm until 2pm, he met with Najib at the lobby of the Cabinet meeting room in the Perdana Putra building, Putrajaya and advised Najib to delay issuing the LoA to Jepak as there were certain procedures Jepak and the Education Ministry had to comply with.
“Datuk Seri Najib ignored my advice and instructed me to speed up according to his instructions,” he said.
Rosmah, 68, pleaded not guilty to a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin, through her former aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor , for a project to provide solar energy to 369 rural schools in Sarawak.
She is charged with committing the offence at three places in Lygon Cafe, Sunway Putra Mall in Jalan Putra, at her house in Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta and at Seri Perdana Residence, Persiaran Seri Perdana, Precinct 10, Putrajaya between Jan 2016 and Sept 7, 2017.
The hearing before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Monday. — Bernama