KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court in former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial that there was no need for the process to award a contract for the supply of passport chips to be expedited four years ago.
Abd Aziz Md Nor, who was the secretary in the home ministry’s procurement division at the time, said this when questioned repeatedly by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Nor.
Hamidi had asked whether the 2016 passport shortage was one of the reasons that prompted the then government to quickly issue the letter of intent to Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd for the company to supply the passport chips.
Aziz also read out a letter from Datasonic to Zahid, who was the home minister at the time, where Zahid had written a note on Oct 15, 2015, telling home ministry officers to immediately issue a letter of intent to the company.
“From what I understood from the minister’s note, the letter of intent needed to be issued right away,” he added.
Aziz also said that instructions from the minister to expedite a process were not unusual but they were not frequent.
Datasonic was awarded the passport chip supply contract worth RM318.7 million through direct negotiations for a five-year period from Dec 1, 2016, until Nov 30, 2021.
Zahid is accused of receiving RM6 million from Datasonic’s director Chew Ben Ben in April 2017 to appoint the company as the passport chip supplier.
Co-counsel Ahmad Zaidi Zainal asked if the process of awarding the contract had complied with the ministry’s procedures and guidelines, to which Aziz answered in the affirmative.
However, the witness said he was not sure whether there was another company that could supply passport chips to the government.
The hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Feb 19.
Zahid has been slapped with 47 charges, including criminal breach of trust, money laundering and accepting bribes for various projects, during his tenure as home minister.