Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had not adhered to government protocol when he approved the extension to Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd’s contract to manage the foreign visa system, a witness in his corruption trial told the Shah Alam High Court today.
Siti Jalilah Abd Manap, a former deputy secretary in the home ministry’s immigration affairs unit, said the extension sought by Ultra Kirana had not been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister’s Office’s public-private partnership unit (UKAS) or the Cabinet.
Siti Jalilah, who is now working with the ministry’s parole board, added that Ultra Kirana had in an Oct 17, 2016 letter, urged the government to extend its contract on the foreign visa system for another six years.
“The former minister (Zahid) penned a note to say he granted a three-year extension for Ultra Kirana until 2022, without the need to refer the extension to UKAS and cabinet.”
The contract for Ultra Kirana to manage the foreign visa system initially ran from Nov 1, 2013, to Oct 31, 2019.
Meanwhile, the company’s contract to manage the one-stop centre (OSC) system in Malaysian consulate offices across China ran between May 2012 and May 2018. A three-year extension was also approved by Zahid. The OSC contract is scheduled to expire this month.
“His decision was not in line with our protocols. Because of that, I wrote to the UKAS representative to seek guidance on what we should do in the future to avoid a similar decision from the next home minister,” Siti Jalilah said.
To a question from deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin on why UKAS needed to be involved in scrutinising the contract extension, the witness said the contract involved public funds and was worth over RM25 million.
Wan Shaharuddin also asked Siti Jalilah on why she thought there was no “urgency” in executing Zahid’s instructions for the contract extension.
The witness replied that there was no urgency because the contract had not lapsed at the material time.
“Under the contract’s terms, the company can request for an extension no less than six months before expiry,” said Siti Jalilah.
After the examination-in-chief, Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Nor informed trial judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa that a member of the defence team, Aiman Abdul Rahman, had just been informed that he had come in “casual contact” with someone positive for Covid-19.
“His MySejahtera status has just changed. So, I am urging the court to postpone the proceedings to next Tuesday (June 1),” he said, to which Yazid agreed.
Zahid is standing trial on 40 corruption charges, where is alleged to have received bribes from Ultra Kirana over the foreign visa system. – FMT