Monday, July 4, 2022

Najib’s minutes to Zahid on visa contract not an order, says Ultra Kirana director

Fadzil Ahmad says the power to approve the foreign visa system contract lay with the home ministry.

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The Shah Alam High Court was today told that the minutes of former prime minister Najib Razak to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for the contract of Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) to be extended as the sole operator of the foreign visa system (VLN) to Malaysia in China was not an order.

UKSB director Fadzil Ahmad said even though Najib was the prime minister and the head of the Cabinet at the time, the power to approve the VLN contract was under the home ministry.

“For me, the source and jurisdiction of authority (to extend the contract) of all my applications began only with the home ministry.

“It did not start at the PM’s office, so to me, the PM can merely assist to expedite, not to give an order,” he said when re-examined by deputy public prosecutor Zander Lim Wai Keong at Zahid’s trial on 40 charges of corruption.

Asked by Lim who would approve the contract extension, Fadzil replied: “The final decision was with the home minister (Zahid).”

Earlier, two prosecution witnesses – former home ministry deputy secretary-general (policy and control) Suriani Ahmad and former principal assistant secretary at the home ministry’s immigration affairs division Azman Azra Abdul Rahman @ Md Salleh – told the court that Najib had asked Zahid to extend the contract of UKSB as the sole operator of the VLN system to Malaysia in China.

The minutes by Najib to Ahmad were written in three letters sent by UKSB to the former prime minister between May 23, 2013 and Oct 27, 2015 to obtain support after finding competition from other companies interested in handling the one-stop-centre (OSC) in China and several other countries.

Meanwhile, during re-examination by counsel Hamidi Mohd Nor, Fadzil, the 14th witness agreed that the earlier extension of the contract was something natural.

Hamidi: There was no need for UKSB to expedite or receive its extension as you could extend not less than six months before its expiry. Secondly it’s natural to extend. It was not something new that needed incentive or motivation to extend the contract. There was nothing peculiar about it. It’s natural the contract needed to be extended, right?

Fadzil: It depends on why it needs to be extended. I felt it was not automatically extended.

He also agreed with the suggestion of the lawyer that based on Clause 2.2.1, the agreement to supply the integrated VLN system was signed before the company could apply for a contract extension not less than six months before the agreement expired.

Fadzil also agreed with the lawyer that it was not an offence if the extension contract was made two or three years before it expired.

Earlier, the sixth witness, Alwi Ibrahim who was the former home ministry secretary-general, told the court that he was not satisfied with Zahid’s decision to extend the contract of UKSB to implement the VLN system when the expiry period was still far away.

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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