Najib ordered diesel genset project replaced with solar hybrid without pilot test: Court told

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14): The High Court was yesterday told that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had ordered the diesel genset project to be replaced with a solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak as proposed by Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, without a pilot test.

Former Education Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad, 63, said Najib issued a directive which stated "please implement as per my previous minute” to Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid in a minute dated June 7, 2016.

“With that minute, the pilot test and study on the solar hybrid project could not be continued because pilot testing and detailed study took a long time to complete.

“Apart from that, the decision and extent of the implementation of the solar hybrid project would depend on inputs from the pilot test and study," she said when reading out her witness statement on the sixth day of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's corruption trial on the solar energy project.

Madinah, who is also a former auditor-general, said the directive by Najib was issued within a short period from the protest made by (Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin’s business partner) Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah over the implementation of the solar hybrid on a pilot project.

“Rayyan also did not want the pilot test to be carried out as it would delay the process of approving the project to Jepak and Jepak would have to bear financial risk if the pilot test failed," he said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.

Madinah, who is the sixth prosecution witness, said the solar hybrid project received the "PM’s" (referring to Najib) support ) as often mentioned by Rayyan.

“I found that Datuk Seri Mahdzir immediately agreed to implement the solar hybrid project after receiving the minute from Datuk Seri Najib. In fact, Datuk Seri Mahdzir instructed me to take immediate action to get the solar hybrid project implemented," she added.

She told the court that from her experience, despite Najib being fond of giving directives through minutes or letters, the former prime minister seldom asked for feedback from the ministry on his directives, except in special cases.

“From my observation, the special cases were projects that were politically viable to Datuk Seri Najib. In such cases, Datuk Seri Najib will ask on the status and actions that had been taken either by me or Datuk Seri Mahdzir during meetings or on the sideline of the meetings,” she said.

According to Madinah, the proposal for the implementation of the solar hybrid project was a sudden move by Jepak to replace the diesel genset project and the new project was approved by Najib himself.

“According to Jepak, implementation of the solar hybrid project will cost RM1.25 billion for a five-year period.

“Jepak had never provided the financial details on the breakdown of the RM1.25 billion during my tenure as the Finance Ministry secretary-general," she said, adding that the Education Ministry had no development plans to replace the diesel genset project with a solar hybrid system.

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.

The hearing before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Monday.

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