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Ultra Kirana sought Najib’s support for visa-linked project, Zahid graft trial told

UKSB director Fadzil Ahmad says three letters were sent to Najib between May 23, 2013, and Oct 27, 2015.

Bernama
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Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Shah Alam High Court today. Photo: Bernama
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Shah Alam High Court today. Photo: Bernama

The Shah Alam High Court was today told that Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) had sent several letters to former prime minister Najib Razak to seek support, following competition from several other companies interested in operating the one-stop centre (OSC) for visas in China and elsewhere.

UKSB director Fadzil Ahmad said the company sent three letters to Najib between May 23, 2013, and Oct 27, 2015.

“The letter dated May 23, 2013 aimed to inform (then) prime minister (Najib) on the progress and achievements of UKSB as well as request for continued consideration and support.

“The letter dated Jan 20, 2014 aimed to express hope that the government could maintain UKSB as the sole operator for visa management to Malaysia in China, supporting UKSB’s ongoing strategic efforts to make the foreign visa system (VLN) the sole system for visa management to Malaysia globally, and to give priority to UKSB in the appointment of OSCs overseas.

“The letter dated Oct 27, 2015 aimed to inform the prime minister about the success and progress of the VLN and OSC China contract between UKSB and KDN (home ministry), and to request that the Malaysian government and KDN support fast-tracking the implementation of the ‘eVISA’ system as an extension of the contracts mentioned, in order to improve services and facilities in line with the latest global technology,” he said.

He said this when reading his witness statement during principal examination by deputy public prosecutor Zander Lim Wai Keong.

Earlier, the second prosecution witness, former principal assistant secretary for the Immigration Affairs Division at KDN, Azman Azra Abdul Rahman @ Md Salleh, told the court that Najib had asked former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to continue UKSB’s contract as the sole operator of the VLN system to Malaysia in China.

Yesterday, the 12th prosecution witness, former home ministry secretary-general Abdul Rahim Mohamed Radzi, told the court that in 2012, there were proposals from a number of companies for appointment as OSC operators in several countries.

Fadzil, who is the 14th prosecution witness, also said that his company had sent a letter to Zahid on Oct 17, 2016, seeking support for the VLN and eVISA to become the de facto system for the visa issuance process at all visa issuing offices.

“This is because UKSB was of the view that it was critical that the VLN and eVISA system be the only one used in every visa issuing office to Malaysia to ensure uniformity of the system and SOPs, as well as to strengthen national security,” he said, adding that the company had sent other letters to Zahid, such as letters to seek consideration and approval, between 2016 and 2017.

Meanwhile, during cross-examination by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh representing Zahid, Rahim agreed that the recommendation to appoint Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd and Foshwa Sdn Bhd as OSC operators for Bangladesh and other South Asian countries came from the home ministry, and not from Zahid who was the home minister at the time.

When asked by deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran about whether a minister must follow the recommendations submitted by a division or government officials under him, Rahim replied: “Not necessarily.”

Zahid served as home minister between 2013 and 2018.

Zahid, 69, faces 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and the then home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the OSC in China and the VLN system, as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the home ministry.

On another seven counts, Zahid was charged as home minister with obtaining for himself S$1,150,000, RM3 million, 15,000 euros and US$15,000 in cash from the same company in connection with his official work.

He is alleged to have committed the acts at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang between October 2014 and March 2018.

The trial before judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues tomorrow.

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