KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — The federal territories minister’s orders would usually take precedence over instructions by the Kuala Lumpur mayor, a retired senior staff of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) today indicated in Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s ongoing trial.
DBKL Economic Planning and Development Department’s (JPEPP) former director Ab Salim Mansor, 61, was commenting on the order of priority given to instructions from the minister and mayor.
“Instructions whether from minister, that is our priority, then the deputy minister, then the mayor... but really we give the priority to YB minister,” Ab Salim told the High Court on the third day of the trial.
The federal territories minister oversees DBKL, which is headed by the city mayor — a position that is filled via appointment and not elections.
Ab Salim is the ninth prosecution witness in former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan’s trial over the alleged acceptance of a RM2 million bribe from property developer Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd’s Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong in the form of a cheque banked in into Tengku Adnan’s company Tadmansori Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Ab Salim had made the remark regarding the prioritising of the minister’s instructions, after being referred to a February 15, 2016 letter containing both the then mayor’s Tan Sri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz’s handwritten note and reference to Tengku Adnan’s note.
The Federal Territories Ministry had written the letter dated February 15, 2016 to inform the mayor of Aset Kayamas’ second appeal, where the company had again asked for a lower land price and to be allowed to defer its initial payment of 10 per cent of the purchase price for two plots of DBKL land measuring 4.048 acres in Bandar Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur.
The February 15, 2016 letter also cited Tengku Adnan’s note addressed to the mayor, where Tengku Adnan had said he “agreed” to Aset Kayamas’ two requests.
The February 15, 2016 letter to the mayor was attached to a February 3, 2016 letter containing Tengku Adnan’s original handwritten note to the mayor.
The February 3, 2016 letter was the second appeal from Aset Kayamas to Tengku Adnan.
After receiving both letters dated February 3 and February 15, the mayor had in turn penned a handwritten note on February 16 to ask Ab Salim to take further action on the instructions.
The trial has so far cast the spotlight on how some former senior DBKL officials view DBKL’s relationship with the federal territories minister, or whether the mayor or the minister is perceived to have the ultimate say over matters in Kuala Lumpur including land-related issues.
Earlier today, former Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz was referred to the February 3, 2016 letter that contained Tengku Adnan’s handwritten note to him, namely “Setuju harga tanah nilai +10 per cent dan tangguh bayaran sehingga 1/4/16”.
The handwritten note stated Tengku Adnan’s agreement to Aset Kayamas’ request to have the total land price be the land value (RM21.302 million) and only an additional 10 per cent of the current land value (RM2,130,200), instead of the additional 20 per cent of over RM4 million or RM4,260,400.
Tengku Adnan had also agreed that the initial 10 per cent payment date be deferred to April 1, 2016.
When cross-examined by Tengku Adnan’s lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan, Mhd Amin Nordin disagreed that the then minister had only given his suggestion via the handwritten note.
Mhd Amin Nordin instead insisted that Tengku Adnan had made a decision regarding the matter.
“You ask about suggestion. If you ask about making decision, yes, correct,” the retiree said, later disagreeing again that Tengku Adnan had merely given a suggestion via the handwritten note for DBKL’s consideration.
Mhd Amin Nordin agreed however that Tengku Adnan as the minister had complied with existing procedures by forwarding Aset Kayamas’ requests to DBKL, and that Tengku Adnan had not written directly to Aset Kayamas.
DBKL had in a March 2016 letter informed Aset Kayamas that both requests were granted, including the deferring of the date where the first 10 per cent had to be made to April 1, 2016.
After questioning Mhd Amin Nordin regarding the legal position on the Kuala Lumpur mayor’s powers, Tan remarked: “To be fair to you, the minister has influence.”
Mhd Amin Nordin did not reply but grinned, with Tan adding in passing before continuing his questions: “Everywhere in the world, politicians have power.”
When asked by Tan, Mhd Amin Nordin confirmed that DBKL had actually in Aset Kayamas’ case agreed with Tengku Adnan’s proposal, due to reasons such as the developer’s plans to build 120 units affordable housing units to be sold at a cheaper rate of RM150,000 for DBKL staff and to carve out 0.5 acres to build a hostel for DBKL’s training institute.
Mhd Amin Nordin also agreed with Tan that he as the mayor would not follow the minister’s suggestion, if DBKL’s JPEPP unit gave reasonable grounds to say the minister’s proposal cannot be accepted.
Mhd Amin Nordin was later asked by deputy public prosecutor Lailawati Ali to clarify his previous differing remarks of following the minister’s handwritten instructions and endorsing JPEPP’s unit in Aset Kayamas’ case.
“Actually I take both together. I have the minister’s minute agreeing with the postponement (of payment) and acknowledgement by JPEPP that this can be done. So I actually take both into account,” he explained.
Yesterday, Mhd Amin Nordin had suggested that a mayor may lack the courage to turn down a minister’s proposals, even if the mayor may have the power to do so.
The trial resumes next Tuesday morning, where Tengku Adnan’s lawyer will continue cross-examining Ab Salim.
Deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim today told High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that another 11 prosecution witnesses are expected to be called to testify after Ab Salim.
The trial is scheduled to continue on July 9 to 11, July 16 to 18, July 29 and August 1 to 2.