KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — Tan Sri Ali Hamsa told the High Court today that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s removal from the Najib Cabinet in 2015 was likely because the then deputy prime minister had asked too many questions about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The retired chief secretary to the government also disclosed that Datuk Seri Najib Razak ordered Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail out of office in July that same year after losing trust in the Sabahan attorney general.
The official reason given for Abdul Gani’s abrupt resignation at the height of the 1MDB scandal was his sickness from kidney failure.
Ali is the fourth prosecution witness in Najib’s joint trial with 1MDB’s last CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy for allegedly tampering with the 2016 Auditor-General’s report on the sovereign investment fund to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
During examination-in-chief by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, Ali revealed that Najib had instructed him to hand-deliver a letter to Gani, asking him to vacate his post.
Sri Ram: Can you explain to His Lordship in your own words the circumstances on how Gani Patail had left his office?
Ali: I think there was a loss of trust on Tan Sri Gani Patail.
Sri Ram: Loss of trust by whom?
Ali: The prime minister.
Sri Ram: Do you know why there was a loss of trust?
Ali: When I handed over the letter to Gani Patail telling he will be released from the AG post, he said he expected this to happen.
Ali also said he was ordered by Najib to tell Gani not to remove any document from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
He elaborated that Abdul Gani’s termination could be related to the latter’s fraternisation with Muhyiddin.
“In the Cabinet at that time, there were some issues with the deputy prime minister then Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. So, I was informed maybe with some others by the prime minister that coincidently Tan Sri Gani Patail and Tan Sri Muhyiddin met somewhere in a shopping centre in KL while shopping.
“I can’t make a conclusion but that’s one thing that may be an issue,’’ he said.
Ali said Muhyiddin was dropped from Cabinet after raising “a lot of questions” and expressing his concern about 1MDB.
Sri Ram: How did the accused react to those questions?
Ali: He was calm in the Cabinet. Some answers were given, some questions were answered by the second finance minister, some were answered by 1MDB.
Sri Ram: What happened to Tan Sri Muhyiddin after he asked all these questions?
Ali: I think he was removed from his post of deputy prime minister.
In 2015, a special task force that consisted of the Inspector-General of Police, the Attorney-General, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Commissioner and Bank Negara Malaysia’s governor was charged to investigate the 1MDB scandal.
However, investigative efforts by the task force came to a halt in August 2015 following confirmation by MACC that it was no longer needed, a few days after Gani’s removal from office on July 27 that year.