KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, both exerted pressure over the education ministry in 2016 to award a RM1.25 billion (S$419 million) solar hybrid project to a politically-connected company, a former minister told the High Court on Monday (Feb 10).
The contract to supply electricity to 369 rural schools in Sarawak was given to Jepak Holdings, whose managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin was linked to the state's now-disbanded Barisan Nasional coalition.
Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, who was education minister from July 2015 to May 2018, was testifying in the graft trial of Rosmah, who stands accused of soliciting RM187.5 million and receiving bribes totalling RM6.5 million from Mr Saidi in return for helping Jepak Holdings secure the project.
Mr Mahdzir had testified last week that Rosmah had in June 2016 asked him to speed up the contract award. On Monday he said Rosmah had called him on December 22, 2016, to talk again about the solar hybrid project.
"Datin Seri Rosmah also told me to just follow the orders in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's minutes and that she did not want me to delay matters relating to the solar hybrid project," he said, according to news site Malay Mail Online.
"I just answered more or less 'Ya, ya Datin Seri' only. I have no doubts that Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was involved in helping Saidi get the solar hybrid project from the education ministry," he said.
Mr Mahdzir had also testified last week that Najib had issued three handwritten notes since June 2016 to instruct him to give the contract to Jepak Holdings. He said Najib had ignored his advice in November that year to wait for Jepak to comply with certain requirements before issuing a letter of acceptance and awarding the project.
"Datuk Seri Najib Razak only ordered me to follow his orders to immediately issue the letter of acceptance to Jepak immediately. I complied only with his orders," Mr Mahdzir said.
According to Mr Mahdzir, he agreed under pressure from Mr Saidi, Mr Saidi's business partner Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah, and Rosmah's former aide, Mr Rizal Mansor, to remove a clause in the contract which reserved the ministry's right to terminate the contract and reduce the number of schools under the project if the Sarawak schools get connected to the electricity grid.
"Datuk Rizal Mansor also reminded me that this solar hybrid project is already in Mem's knowledge and asked me to fulfil Jepak's request. I know the 'Mem' that was meant by Datuk Rizal Mansor is Datin Seri Rosmah," he said in court, as reported by the Malay Mail.
Rosmah faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of the bribe if convicted.
The trial continues on Tuesday.