KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — The former Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) vice-chancellor today told the Sessions Court here that Datuk Peter Anthony, the managing director of Asli Jati Engineering Sdn Bhd, scolded him for failing to award the company a mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems maintenance and operation contract at the university.

Prof Datuk Mohd Harun Abdullah, 60, said he explained to Peter that the contract would be awarded through an open tender, a decision that was made by the university’s Board of Directors in a meeting.

“Datuk Peter is angry with me because his company could not get the M&E contract for Phase 2B building at the university,” he said, when reading his witness statement on the ninth day of the trial of the former Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister who was charged with using false documents regarding the system maintenance contract.

The 10th prosecution witness also confirmed that the M&E contract at the university was awarded to REMT Utama Sdn Bhd, not Asli Jati, through an open tender, adding that UMS did not suffer any losses from the action.

Earlier, Mohd Harun told the court that he was shocked to learn that his signature was found on a letter claiming that UMS fully supported Asli Jati’s application to maintain operational work at UMS for five years through direct negotiations.

“The letter was the one given to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was also the finance minister at the time, for approval. I confirm that I never issued or signed the letter even though it used my name as UMS vice-chancellor.

“I recognise the signature as belonging to the former deputy vice-chancellor for Academic and International of UMS Prof Shariff Abd Kadir Shariff Omang. I also confirmed that Shariff had signed the letter without my knowledge and permission,” he said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

The witness also denied any support from him as it was against the decision reached by the UMS Board of Directors on January 16, 2014, to award the M&E maintenance work contract through an open tender.

“I confirm that the reference to the letter does not exist and there is no record of it in the UMS file,” he said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Datuk D. Senthinathan requested that the cross-examination session against the four prosecution witnesses from Sabah, including Mohd Harun, be conducted by Munawar Kabir Mohd Zainal Abidin, the lawyer representing Peter, after his sick leave ended on August 2.

Apart from Mohd Harun, other prosecution witnesses are UMS deputy vice-chancellor for Academic and International Affairs Prof Shariff Abd Kadir Shariff Omang, Ulink Property Sdn Bhd former chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Said and Peter’s acquaintance, Mohd Shukur Mohd Din.

However, Wan Shaharuddin objected to the application on the grounds that it was an attempt by the defence to delay the trial.

“Since the accused was charged last year, this is the third time the case has been postponed for various reasons. Previously, the prosecution had never raised the issue but this time we had to object because this case involved several elderly witnesses who had to travel from Sabah to testify,” he said.

Judge Azura Alwi dismissed the application and ordered the cross-examination session to continue tomorrow.

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. — Bernama