By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The idea of initiating a solar project that would light up 369 rural schools in Sarawak and provide better facilities for school children is certainly a noble cause.
The RM1.25 billion project was supposed to include the supply of diesel to generate electricity and the installation of solar hybrid systems in the chosen off-grid schools that have been relying on generators.
A check by the media somehow proved that none of the designated schools was installed with the proposed system.
That led to a probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the solar hybrid scandal in April, a month prior to the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9.
Yesterday, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and her former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor were quizzed for hours by the graft-buster in relation to the “missing solar panels”.
The solar hybrid project might have gone wrong from the word go, it seems.
Earlier, on June 10, a news item in the Sarawak Report highlighted that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak had allegedly authorised the Education Ministry in January 2017 to appoint a company to supply solar panels to 369 schools in Sarawak, in favour of the company over other qualified contractors.
Later, the Education Ministry initiated an internal investigation to identify the individuals who were involved in the misappropriation of the contract.
On June 27, the MACC detained a 59-year-old MD of a Bintulu-based company and a 30-year-old lawyer, while the probe zoomed in on few key players involved in the fund misappropriation.
The duo was remanded for six days and the case was investigated under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009 for making false claims.
Meanwhile, another report highlighted that Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd was awarded a direct contract of the project worth more than RM1 billion beginning Jan 1, 2017.
It was reported that prior to 2017, diesel was supplied to schools by suppliers on a contract basis and Jepak was one of the contractors.
A check by The Malaysian Reserve on Jepak’s website — jepakholdings.com — led to a “404 Error Page”.
A Bloomberg profile noted that the Bintulu-based company, which was founded in 1985, offers contract-based electrical, mechanical and civil construction; automobile repair and maintenance; and food catering services.
Earlier, Rizal was arrested by the MACC in July following allegations that he solicited money from Jepak over the project.
Both Rosmah and Rizal are facing joint charges in the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Court at 2.30pm today on several cases regarding solar power supply and installation projects in schools in Sarawak.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, former Federal Territories (FT) Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor will be charged over the sale of land belonging to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Current FT Minister Khalid Abdul Samad revealed that out of the 97 land transactions that are being investigated by the MACC, 43 transactions have received the go-ahead, while 14 have been cancelled.
Another 15 have been renegotiated, while 20 will be further investigated and no consensus was reached for five other projects.
Khalid said these 97 transactions took place between 2011 and 2018 under his predecessors, including Tengku Adnan.
Khalid also said a few parcels of land sold by DBKL before GE14 were disposed of at 30% below market price.
He said among the dubious deals were a plot of land that was sold for only RM40 million when the land value stood at RM120 million.
Previously, MP Lim Lip Eng (Pakatan Harapan-Kepong) lodged a report with the MACC to investigate the RM4.28 billion sale of land to the FT Foundation in 2013, which was chaired by Tengku Adnan.
Lim (picture) said less than half of these transactions involving 64 land plots went to public housing under Rumah Wilayah Persekutuan or Rumah WIP, with the rest ending up in the hands of developers for high-end developments.
Among the land deals listed involving FT Foundation are a 0.51-acre (0.2ha) land in Taman Tun Dr Ismail sold for RM11.58 million and earmarked for a mixed development project, a 0.76-acre plot in Taman Desa (RM11.17 million/263-unit serviced apartments) and a 0.9-acre land in Bukit Jalil (RM14.4 million/954-unit serviced apartments