Friday, December 24, 2021

Govt servants did not perceive Rosmah as overbearing: Ex-public servant

Govt servants did not perceive Rosmah as overbearing: Ex-public servant

A former government officer previously tasked with coordinating the affairs of Rosmah Mansor has refuted an allegation that she was overbearing.

Second defence witness Siti Azizah Sheikh Abod testified this during today’s solar hybrid energy project corruption trial against Rosmah, who is the wife of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The former coordinator of the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM) Division under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), was responding to the prosecution’s contention that Rosmah was overbearing in nature.

The prosecution claimed this overbearing nature allowed her to exercise considerable influence in the public sector despite occupying no official position.

The prosecution contended that this allowed the accused to purportedly solicit and receive bribes linked to the RM1.25 billion project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

During today's examination-in-chief by defence counsel Azrul Stork, Siti Azizah rubbished the claim that government servants were fearful of the accused.

“In my knowledge, such perception has no basis at all. This is because I felt comfortable when I was working with Rosmah Mansor,” the witness said.

Siti Azizah testified that Rosmah, whom she knew since their days attending Universiti Malaya in 1971, was a person who is capable, smart, clever, and “hands-on”.

A perfectionist

The witness claimed that the accused was a perfectionist and expected the best from all tasks given due to possibly the latter having a bachelor’s degree and used to hold a high corporate position.

Siti Azizah testified that public servants under Rosmah were able to carry out their daily duties well because the accused was clear over the objective and outcome of any given tasks.

“In fact, she never interfered in the process of us carrying out our duties as FLOM division officers. We were free to interpret (the tasks given) for implementation.

"In fact, Rosmah does not have the capacity to interfere in the implementation of our tasks because we worked under the FLOM division under the Prime Minister's Office, due to us as public servants working under the government and Prime Minister,” the witness testified.

In relation to the trial before the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, Rosmah, 70, is facing three charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009.

In the first charge, she is accused of soliciting RM187.5 million in bribes from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to help secure the Education Ministry project.

The RM1.25 billion project was intended to supply power to 369 rural schools in Sarawak using a combination of solar and diesel energy.

In the second and third charges, she is accused of receiving RM1.5 million and RM5 million in bribes, respectively, as a reward for securing the project.

On Feb 18 this year, the High Court ordered Rosmah to enter her defence, following its finding that the prosecution succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against her.

Today is part of the defence stage of the trial.

Rebranding of existing division

Siti Azizah, who used to be a sole special officer to then-premier Najib to coordinate Rosmah’s affairs, testified that FLOM was not a new division that was set up when he took over the reins of government in 2009.

The witness claimed that FLOM was a rebranding of an existing department under the PMO, which were already then coordinating the affairs of wives of previous premiers such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Siti Azizah contended that the rebranding of the existing division during Najib’s tenure saw her being placed in the said division as its director to coordinate the affairs of Rosmah.

“For the purpose of rebranding of divisions under the PMO that usually follows on a new premier taking the helm, I had proposed that the said division be rebranded as First Lady of Malaysia, whereby it would be suitable with the name of the premier’s wife as the First Lady of the Country.

"However, the functions, roles and responsibilities are suitable with current needs.

“As far as I know, there was no establishment of a new division under PMO because the FLOM division is a continuation of an existing division,” Siti Azizah testified.

Proceedings before trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan will resume on Jan 10 next year, whereby Najib is expected to take the stand as a defence witness.

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