Rosmah trial: Ex-minister couldn't confirm direct orders from Rosmah or Najib, as messages always relayed

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 13, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 13, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 ― Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid could not confirm to the High Court today if the orders to expedite the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid schools project came straight from the mouths of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor or her then prime minister husband Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Mahdzir under cross examination was asked if he had ever verified the information and orders passed on to him through letters, emails or verbally from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd partners or from Rosmah's personal aide Datuk Rizal Mansor to which he answered in the negative.

Mahdzir, who was education minister from July 2015 to May 2018, has been on the witness stand since 6 Feb 2020, said that he had only complied with Najib's instructions to award the RM1.25 billion contract to Saidi Abang Samsudin’s company Jepak Holdings as official letterheads with Najib's signatures had arrived at his office.

This, coupled with the immense pressure he was facing from “team Saidi” which consists of Saidi, Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah (partner in Jepak Holdings), Rizal and Rosmah pushed him to release the Letter of Approval (LOA) to Jepak Holdings.

During cross examination by Rosmah's lawyer Azrul Zulkifli Stork, Mahdzir said despite there not being a direct instructions it was not difficult to know the correspondence he was receiving was legitimately from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Azrul: If Rizal Mansor calls you and mentions the word “ma’am” you wouldn't know if this is from Rosmah correct? As in you wouldn't know if the messages relayed from Rizal was indeed from Rosmah or Najib for that matter correct?

Mahdzir: But such messages or methods were used many times.

Azrul: But they weren't verified by you right?

Mahdzir: I can't be sure.

Azrul: Ok, but you never heard anything straight from Rosmah's mouth yes?

Mahdzir: Yes.

Mahdzir's credibility has been questioned by Rosmah's defence lawyers ever since he took the stand to give his testimony.

He has been accused of trying to take an RM50,000 bribe to spend on a holiday in London as well as asking for RM1 million a month for five years for awarding the solar project to Jepak Holdings, all of which Mahdzir has denied.

Today he was accused of trying to cut a deal with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in order to save himself from prosecution by hiring lawyers to broker a deal with MACC before he was set to meet them in Nov last year.

According to the defense, Mahdzir had hired lawyer Vignesh Kumar from Vignesh Kumar and Associates who sent a letter to the Attorney Generals-Chambers to strike a deal with them on November 27 in lieu of Mahdzir being called up to give a statement on November 29. 

In said letter, Mahdzir agreed to provide evidence against the “prime mover” in the deal with “proposed evidence”. Lawyer Datuk Jagjit Singh representing Rosmah then accused Mahdzir of trying to save himself by implicating others and also implied that Mahdzir had been the mastermind behind this move with MACC to which Mahdzir denied.

Jagjit: Who is this prime mover?

Mahdzir: I can't answer.

Jagjit: These letters were sent under your orders, agree?

Mahdzir: I gave instructions to the lawyers.

Jagjit: I'm suggesting to you the “prime mover” here is Rizal Mansor and Saidi.

Mahdzir: I disagree.

Jagjit: WellI feel it's more than a coincidence that you have a letter here dated 27 November 2018 from your lawyers to MACC two days before you gave your statement on the 29th. You are here your willingness to offer “proposed evidence” to further strengthen the case to fix up this prime mover. Your intentions here are not good.

Mahdzir: I disagree. I had met the MACC several times before, once in Oct as well, so this meeting was not new.

After that, Rosmah's lawyer Azrul implied that Rosmah wanted to help the children in Sarawak by expediting the Solar Hybrid project as she was also patron for Permata Negara, an initiative established to provide quality Children’s Early Child Education and Care Programme for children four years and below through the medium of the Permata Negara Curriculum.

Azrul said that if solar power was to reach the rural areas it would benefit the kids there tremendously as they can now study online due to the availability of electricity.

Mahdzir however rubbished these claims.

Mahdzir: I have to disagree with that because it's not as if there is no electricity at all in these schools and rural areas. They already have a supply of electricity from the existing Gensat company. Gensat however were not using solar energy but the normal electricity supply.

Azrul: Ok, so if we have solar it'll make online study easier correct?

Mahdzir: Not necessarily, we haven't tested this out.

Mahdzir will be appearing again on Monday, February 17, where he will answer questions from senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

Rosmah is facing trial for asking for RM185 million in bribes for offering the RM1.25 billion Solar Hybrid schools project to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

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