Mahdzir complained about pressure from Najib on solar project – witness


Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad (picture) told the High Court here today that former education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had complained to her about the pressure he was receiving from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak regarding the hybrid solar project in Sarawak.

The former secretary-general of the education ministry said Mahdzir among other things told her that Najib verbally ordered him to implement the hybrid solar project and that the former prime minister was quite upset that the project appeared to have been delayed.

The sixth prosecution witness in the corruption trial of the former prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor said Mahdzir had also told her to just extend the application for direct negotiation on the solar project to Najib in his capacity as the then Finance Minister.

“Apart from that, pressure also came in the form of minutes dated Dec 1, 2015 and June 7, 2016 from Datuk Seri Najib Razak directing Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid to carry out the order to replace the diesel genset project with the hybrid solar project,” she said when reading out her witness statement.

Rosmah, 68, has claimed trial to a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Saidi through her former aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor in exchange for helping Jepak Holdings obtain a RM1.25 billion project to provide solar energy to 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

It was as an inducement to help Jepak Holdings secure the Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar System Integrated Project and Maintenance and Operation of Genset/Diesel for the 369 rural schools in Sarawak, worth RM1.25 billion, through direct negotiation from the Education Ministry.

She allegedly committed the offences at three places, namely Lygon Cafe at Sunway Putra Mall in Jalan Putra here; her house at Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta here, and at the Seri Perdana Residence, Persiaran Seri Perdana, Precinct 10, Putrajaya between January 2016 and Sept 7, 2017.

Madinah, 63, who was secretary-general from June 13, 2013 until her retirement on Sept 2, 2016, said without Najib’s minutes dated June 7, 2016, she would not have entertained Jepak’s application as it did not give a breakdown on costing and lacked information on the detailed job scope and accredited consultant appointed for the project.

She said there was no pressing need at the Education Ministry level to expedite acquisition matters on the solar project, which was also not in the ministry’s development planning.

“The electricity supply planning at the Education Ministry then comprised the diesel genset project and extension to the electric grid line only,” said Madinah, also a former auditor-general, on the seventh day of the trial.

The witness said she did not know why Najib issued follow-up orders to hastily implement the massive, costly and high-risk hybrid solar project without proper planning and studies or consultation with the Education Ministry.

Madinah said from her experience of working under Najib, she had found him to be a visionary and wise leader who was careful about costs and implementation requirements of a project.

“Actions taken by me from June 8, 2016 to June 23, 2016 were to carry out the written and verbal directives of Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid to quickly bring Jepak’s application to the Finance Ministry as ordered by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Although my actions were not influenced by the actions of Rayyan (Radzwill Abdullah, Saidi’s business partner) and Datuk Rizal Mansor (Rosmah’s former aide), they had continuously pressured me to quickly bring Jepak’s application to the Finance Ministry during that period.

“Based on my experience, the implementation of a hybrid solar project at the scope proposed by Jepak required thorough planning for it to be effective. A hybrid solar project that is implemented hastily would face complications during implementation, increasing the risk of failure and/or wasting of money and losses,” she added.

The trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues.