KUALA LUMPUR (March 11): Former Education Secretary-General Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad admitted that his Ministry had not followed the rules when it gave the Letter of Award (LoA) for a RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd in 2016.
During cross-examination by Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, the witness agreed that the LoA was awarded before a value management exercise had been carried out on the proposed project.
The witness agreed that the LoA was issued despite the Finance Ministry’s head of procurement unit, Datuk Othman Semail, writing to him to say he could not issue the LoA.
Citing the letter by Othman, Akberdin asked: “What has happened? You have issued the LoA even before a project value management was done by a technical committee?” Alias shook his head and said he did not know.
Akberdin: Do you agree that the issuance of the LoA was not in line with the Finance Ministry’s five principles of good governance?
Alias: Agreed, as a regulator I did not follow. But as a normal human being, I too make mistakes.
Akberdin: This was a glaring disobedience on your part. Do you agree? It’s quite startling, that you did not follow the procedure.
However, the witness disagreed that he had neglected his duties in the preparation of the LoA to Jepak.
Jepak, a Sarawak-based transport company, had in 2015 proposed to the Government a project to implement a solar hybrid system in 369 rural schools.
The Ministry of Education had issued the LoA to the company on Nov 10, 2016.
The LoA was issued slightly over two months after Alias was appointed Education Secretary-General on Sept 5, 2016, following the retirement of Tan Sri Madinah Mohamed on Sept 2, 2016.
Previously, Madinah testified that she had agreed to award the LoA before she retired.
Alias, the 12th witness in the solar graft trial involving Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, told the court that he did not remember whether he was involved in the preparation of the LoA.
“However I did see the LoA a few weeks after it was signed by the Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid,” said the witness.
He also disagreed that he had personal or vested interests in the case, as suggested by the defence lawyer.
Rosmah is facing charges of soliciting RM187.5 million from Jepak managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin between January and April 2016, and allegedly receiving RM5 million and RM1.5 million in 2016 and 2017.
The trial continues tomorrow before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.