The awarding of an honorific to a National Audit Department (NAD) officer came into focus during the 1MDB audit report trial of Najib Razak today.
Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asked NAD director Nor Salwani Muhammad if she had received her Datuk title after delivering evidence in relation to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit tampering case.
Nor Salwani gained public recognition after testifying that she had saved the original audit report on the scandal-ridden 1MDB after being instructed to destroy them.
Her whistle-blower action had aided the prosecution in the trial against former prime minister Najib Razak and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy who were alleged to have amended the final 1MDB audit report.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah conferred the Datuk title on Nor Salwani during the investiture ceremony on Federal Territories Day in February last year.
Shafee: Can you tell the court when you became a Datuk?
Salwani: February 1, 2020.
Shafee: You were awarded the Panglima Mahkota Wilayah (PMW), correct?
Shafee: Do you agree with the content of this article by Harian Metro on February 1. 2020 titled “Congratulations Datuk Nor Salwani”?
Salwani: I do not agree (with the content).
Salwani was among 25 individuals awarded the PMW which carries the title of Datuk in conjunction with the 16th Federal Territories Day by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Shafee read a few paragraphs of the newspaper article, which stated that Salwani was awarded the honorific in appreciation of her services in securing evidence of the case.
The news article also quoted then Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad who said the award was a manifestation of his ministry which firmly rejects any element of corruption and abuse of power by any party.
Shafee asked Salwani if she would associate her recognition with the minister’s statement. To which Salwani replied that she did not know.
She added that her nomination for the award had been sent prior to her testimony at the trial and it is mainly for her faithful work in the audit department for 30 years.
When the lawyer pressed on his questioning, Judge Zaini Mazlan then interrupted, “Only the minister can answer that (on the reason for her award), you can only ask on her view with regard to the statement.”
Salwani then said, “I respect the minister’s views. Despite all that happened, my nomination took place earlier, and if my award is based on that justification (of being a whistle-blower), I disagree.”
The court will resume on August 11 after Shafee requested for tomorrow’s session to be postponed. The defence team said it needed time to prepare for the SRC International case appeals which will take place in April.
Lead deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said that there may be six more witnesses that will be testifying and will need approximately 10 more days to wrap up the prosecution’s case.
The Pekan MP, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action being taken against him.
Najib is accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex in Putrajaya between February 22 and 26, 2016.
Ex-1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda, 46, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
Both are charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction. – TMI
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