Mahdzir says Rosmah pressured him to expedite solar project approval

On June 8, 2016, after the breaking of fast banquet at the PM’s residence in Putrajaya, Rosmah told the 5th prosecution witness to hasten the process

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

FORMER Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid testified that he was pressured by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor to speed up the approval process of a RM1.25 billion solar power supply project.

The fifth prosecution witness in the corruption trial told the High Court Kuala Lumpur (KL) that Rosmah showed her interest in the project and there was an instance where she asked for the approval process to be expedited.

Mahdzir said on June 8, 2016, after the breaking of fast banquet at the prime minister’s (PM) residence in Putrajaya, Rosmah told him to hasten the process.

“When I was shaking Datin Seri Rosmah’s hands before heading off, she in a way told me to ‘you tengok la project solar Cikgu Aazmey. Cepatkan sikit’. (Please take a look at Cikgu Aazmey’s solar project. Speed it up).”

Mahdzir said he understood Rosmah’s message as an instruction to expedite the approval process for the solar hybrid project to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd given her influence and position as a wife of then-PM.

He said “Cikgu Aazmey” is Pekan Umno division secretary Datuk Ahmad Aazmey Abu Talib, who was also formerly a Pahang education director.

He also said Jepak MD Saidi Abang Samsudin had regularly contacted him to expedite the approval of the solar hybrid job.

According to Mahdzir, Jepak was initially granted a pilot project to change the power supply system in rural schools in Sarawak from electric generators to solar hybrid.

Mahdzir said he received a letter from then-PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in December 2015, endorsing the power system replacement in 369 rural schools in Sarawak and the project would be run by Jepak.

Mahdzir said he was reluctant, as it was not a straightforward process to cancel the existing contract. Still, he settled to approve a pilot project for a selected number of schools instead.

He said Saidi’s partner Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah once texted him: “Why is it so hard to do? You already have been instructed by the PM. If you don’t follow the PM’s order, you will not keep your job for long.”

Rosmah has been charged with soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a total bribe of RM6.5 million from Saidi through her aide Datuk Rizal Mansor in relation to the project.

She was alleged to have received RM5 million cash from Saidi at her official residence in Putrajaya on Dec 20, 2016, after the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued the letter of award to Jepak.

The amount initially requested was 17% of the project’s total value or over RM200 million, but Rosmah later agreed with 15% or RM187.5 million on Rizal’s advice.

Rosmah had also received RM1.5 million cash from Saidi at her home in Jalan Langgak Duta, KL, on Sept 7, 2017, after the solar contract was executed on June 20, 2017. Subsequently, the MoE then released a series of payments to Jepak.

A former driver to Saidi also testified that he had placed two backpacks containing money in RM100 denomination notes at the residence of the former PM on Jalan Langgak Duta in late 2017.

Shamsul Rizal Sharbini said he and Saidi had followed Rayyan’s car to the house.

Shamsul Rizal, however, said he did not count the money.