Najib: I was angry at being duped over support letter for contract works at UMS

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 19, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 19, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the Sessions Court here today that he was angry at being deceived in connection with a letter of support for a mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems maintenance and operation contract at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to be awarded to a company owned by Datuk Peter Anthony.

The former prime minister, who for the first time testified as a prosecution witness, said Tun Zaki Azmi, who was then the chairman of the UMS Board of Directors during a meeting at the Parliament House informed him that UMS had never issued a letter or given any support and agreement to award the contract to Peter’s company, namely Syarikat Asli Jati Engineering Sdn Bhd.

“I was angry at the time, because I felt I had been deceived as the contents of the letter delivered to me were contrary to the real intentions of the university,” he said when reading out his witness statement on the eighth day of the trial against Peter, who was charged with using false documents in connection with the said contract.

Najib, 67, who was then the prime minister and finance minister, said the letter dated June 9, 2014, was received from UMS.

“The letter was signed by the then deputy vice-chancellor (academic & international) of UMS, Prof Dr Shariff Abd Kadir Shariff Omang on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor with regard to the ‘Operation and Maintenance of the M&E System at the Phase 2B Building, Building and Infra at the Main Campus (FPL /Sikuati Outpatient Treatment Centre, Kudat) and Other Buildings at Universiti Malaysia Sabah — For Five Years’,” he said.

The 12th prosecution witness said the letter also stated that the university had no reservations in supporting the cooperation between ULink Property Sdn Bhd — a wholly-owned subsidiary of UMS — and Asli Jati to carry out the contract works.

“The university also requested my approval l for this ‘smart partnership’,” he said.

Najib said he was informed by Zaki that UMS had in fact appointed REMT Utama Sdn Bhd for the operation and maintenance of the M&E system at the university through an open tender agreed by the university’s Board of Directors.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin whether he felt suspicious when he saw the signature of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Dr Shariff) in the letter of support, the witness said: “Not at all”.

However, Najib said if he had known that the letter of support did not get approval from the then Vice-Chancellor of UMS, Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah, he would not have “entertained” the letter.

Asked by Wan Shaharudin whether Najib as the Finance Minister at the time was negligent in approving the contract, Najib replied: No, I accepted the application in good faith.

Wan Shaharuddin: In this case, did Datuk Seri Najib correct the mistake (regarding the approval of the letter of support)?

Najib: Yes, I did correct it, that’s why I cancelled the original decision (to approve the project) and supported the decision of UMS’ Board of Directors.

Wan Shaharudin: If you did not receive information or advice from Tun Zaki, would you have made the correction?

Najib: If I did not receive advice or information from Tun Zaki, I would not have known that a fraud has taken place.

Wan Shaharuddin: What made you come to court today and testify?

Najib: I do not like acts of fraud committed by any party. This is because I want to protect my reputation and the government, and in this case, UMS.

Meanwhile, former secretary-general of the Treasury at the Ministry of Finance, Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, 64, who is also the 13th prosecution witness, said he was not involved in any evaluation, support or approval process for the project.

Peter, 50, as the managing director of Asli Jati Sdn Bhd, was charged with forging a letter from the UMS deputy vice-chancellor’s office dated June 9, 2014, by inserting a false statement in the title of the letter with the intention of using it to deceive the office of the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya between June 13, 2014, and August 21, 2014.

He was also charged on the optional charge as the managing director of Asli Jati Sdn Bhd over the use of a false document as genuine, namely a letter from the office of the deputy vice-chancellor of UMS dated June 9, 2014, which had a false statement in the title of the letter, and he had reason to believe that the document is false, at the same place and time.

The trial before Judge Azura Alwi continues on July 26. — Bernama

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