Ministry violated rules in awarding solar hybrid contract, admits former sec-gen

Alias Ahmad was the education ministry secretary-general from September 2016 to May 2018. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court in Rosmah Mansor’s corruption trial heard today that the education ministry did not follow finance ministry procedures in awarding the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project in Sarawak to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Alias Ahmad, who was the education ministry secretary-general from September 2016 to May 2018, said his officials issued the letter of acceptance (LOA) to Jepak even before conducting the value management on the project.

The 12th prosecution witness said his ministry also requested for RM130 million to be disbursed as advancement payment before the contract was signed on June 20, 2017.

At one juncture, when cross-examined by lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader, Alias apologised for the issuance of the LOA on Oct 10, 2016 as he was the regulator in the ministry.

Alias agreed with Akberdin that the head of procurement unit in the finance ministry, Osman Ismail, had written to him that he could not issue the LOA.

Osman, in the letter, said: “What has happened? You have issued the LOA even before a project value management was done by a technical committee?”

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: Agree, as a regulator I did not follow. But as a normal human being , I too make mistakes.

Akberdin: Agree that all your actions were a futile exercise?

Alias: Yes, but I was advised by my deputy. Agree, I did not follow the finance ministry’s procedures.

Alias also agreed with Akberdin that the LOA was drafted in an extraordinary way that the interests of Jepak superseded that of the government.

The witness, however, denied procedures were breached because he too had a personal interest in the project.

Rosmah is alleged to have solicited RM187.5 million from Jepak managing director and majority shareholder Saidi Abang Samsudin as an inducement to help the company secure the solar hybrid project for 369 schools in Sarawak.

She is also accused of receiving bribes amounting to RM6.5 million from Saidi between 2016 and 2017.

The hearing before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues.