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Zahid trial: DTSB was allowed to resupply passport chips despite poor performance, says witness

13 Feb 2020 / 10:40 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here yesterday was informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (Moha) had allowed Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd (DTSB) to resupply chips for Malaysian passports despite the company’s previous poor performance.

Ministry of Finance Procurement Department former deputy secretary Dr Uzailee Abdul Latif, 58, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who was home minister at the time had sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Aug 20, 2014.

“In the letter, the ministry stated that the performance of DTSB was unsatisfactory, as there was often a delay in the supplying of passport chips which affected the performance of the Immigration Department (JIM) when the supply was cut off.

“In the same letter, the ministry stated that it wished to maintain the existing contract with Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional Sdn Bhd (PKN) and chips provided by IRIS based on their outstanding performance.

“The conclusion from the letter was that the ministry did not intend to approve the company (DTSB) for new acquisitions,“ he said, adding that DTSB had obtained the contract to supply the passport chips since 2012.

Reading out his witness statement in court, Uzailee said on Nov 27, 2014, he attended a meeting held among DTSB, MOF, Moha and JIM and in that discussion, DTSB made a cost comparison, stating that if they were awarded the project, the government can save on existing costs.

“As a result of these discussions, the MOF through Moha requested DTSB to provide additional information to consider DTSB’s application to apply for the passport chip supply project,“ he said on the 14th day of the trial against Ahmad Zahid, who faces 47 charges involving millions of ringgit in funds from Yayasan Akalbudi and corruption in connection with passport chip supply contracts with several companies.

The 30th prosecution witness said that in June 2016, JIM faced a supply shortage for the International Malaysian Passport and a meeting was held to discuss a resolution to the issue with DTSB and PKN on Aug 15, 2016.

“Following the meeting, the MOF issued a letter of warning to the ministry on the matter.

“In a letter dated Aug 30, 2016, the MOF approved the appointment of DTSB for the supply of passports for five years, or 12.5 million chips to be embedded in the Malaysian Passport’s polycarbonate biodata page to the Government of Malaysia via direct negotiation,“ he said.

When asked by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, representing Ahmad Zahid, during cross-examination on who was the MOF minister who approved the application (for the project to supply passport chips by DTSB) at the time, the witness replied “Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak”.

Uzailee, meanwhile, said the negotiations for the procurement of the project from DTSB were under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Finance, which was then led by Najib.

“Moha can only provide acknowledgment to the MOF on whether they agreed or not (to the application). So in this case, Moha agreed to and supported the company’s application,“ he said during re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Peng Kun.

Ahmad Zahid, 67, faces 47 charges, 12 of them for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit of funds from Yayasan Akalbudi.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow. — Bernama

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