Covid-19 close contact cuts short Zahid’s VLN trial

Judge decides to adjourn the proceeding after one of the attendees was found to be in close contact with a Covid-19 individual 


DATUK Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial on the Foreign Visa System (VLN) in Shah Alam High Court was cut short yesterday following a Covid-19 close contact that was present in the courtroom. 

The proceeding began at 9.15am where former Home Ministry secretary general Tan Sri Alwi Ibrahim was being cross-examined by defence counsel Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal. 

Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa, however, decided to adjourn the proceeding at 10.30am after one of the attendees in the courtroom was found to be in close contact with a Covid-19 individual. The trial will resume on March 7. 

During his cross-examination, Alwi who was the sixth prosecution witness told the High Court that the minutes recorded by Ahmad Zahid on contract extension for Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) in implementing the government’s VLN was an agreement instead of a directive. 

He said based on the minutes recorded by the Umno president on Oct 18, 2016, it showed that Ahmad Zahid, who was also the then Home Minister, had agreed to the move and told Alwi to prepare necessary documents as soon as possible. 

“The minutes read that Datuk Seri KSU/Datuk PUU, I do not object to the contract extension of six months until Aug 31, 2025 as stated in article 2.2.1 of the existing agreement. Please prepare the supplementary agreement soon,” said the witness. 

He, however, told the court that although the recorded minutes stated that the matter must be done immediately, it was still subjected to the procedures of the Home Ministry. 

Alwi had previously said he was not satisfied with the decision made by Ahmad Zahid in extending UKSB’s contract for the implementation of the VLN too early because the existing contract still had a long way to go. 

Alwi, however, said he complied with the instruction issued by Ahmad Zahid to extend UKSB’s contract three years before it ended, which was in 2019. 

Ahmad Zahid is charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42.08 million) from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant, then as Home Minister, to extend the contract of the company as the operator of a One Stop Centre service in China, and the VLN system, as well as to maintain the contract to supply the VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the Home Ministry. 

He was also charged with seven other counts in his capacity as the home minister for accepting S$1.12 million, RM3 million, €15,000 (RM70,800) and US$15,000 (RM62,700) without consideration from the same company, which he knew had links with his official duties.