Yesterday (1 September), High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ruled that Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was guilty of all 3 charges of seeking and receiving bribes in return for assisting in a government contract to supply energy to rural schools in Sarawak.
In his 116-page judgement sighted by The Edge, Mohamed Zaini warned that corruption must be curtailed before it becomes a pandemic. He also said that if left unchecked, corruption would become a way of life.
“Corruption has reached almost every level of society. It must be curtailed before it becomes a pandemic. If corruption is left unbridled, our society will come to accept it as a way of life or business,” the judge said.
Elaborating on his judgement, Mohamed Zaini said while Rosmah claimed that former aide turned prosecution witness Datuk Rizal Mansor could have solicited the money for himself, the court found it difficult to accept that suggestion due to the staggering amount involved as Rizal was merely an employee in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“It would be preposterous to accept that Rizal had drawn up this scheme for his benefit as he would surely be found out. I doubt Rizal would take a risk of such a magnitude. I am of the view that Rizal would take the risk of such magnitude, as I am of the view that he was only able to solicit confidently as he was instructed by the accused,” the judge said.
On the other hand, he said Rosmah testified that it would have been undignified of her to do so and she being the wife of the prime minister appeared to be dignified and thinks highly of herself.
“This was evident from her demeanour on the witness stand and her standing in society as the prime minister’s wife then,” he said, adding that negotiating openly or directly would have exposed her misdeeds and that Rosmah was no fool in this.
“She had used and instructed Rizal to do her bidding and solicit from Saidi for her benefit. I therefore find the accused had failed to rebut the presumption of corrupt intention on a balance of probabilities and the charge of solicitation has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.
Judge Mohamed Zaini also pointed out the disparity in Rosmah’s defence when her lawyers questioned Rizal with regards to bringing the RM5 million with Saidi to Seri Perdana, the PM’s official residence, and claimed that Rosmah at that time was in fact in her private residence on Jalan Langgak Duta.
“I believe the disparity in her explanation, plus the fact that she had never mentioned it in her witness statement (prepared by her defence lawyers), bolster the prosecution’s case that she was in Seri Perdana. It is a fact that Seri Perdana is her official residence. There would be no reason for Rizal to bring the RM5 million cash there if it was not meant for the accused,” he said.
“I find that the accused (Rosmah) had failed to rebut the presumption over the third charge (relating to receiving the RM5 million) on a balance of probabilities and that the prosecution had proven the charge beyond reasonable doubt.”
He said the evidence from Saidi and one businessman friend Datuk Ahmed Farriq Zainul Abidin who accompanied Saidi, had corroborated that two bags containing the (RM5 million) cash were brought to Seri Perdana and Rizal had shown them there.
However, Rosmah insisted that she did not see the two knapsacks containing the money.
“I found Saidi to be a credible witness and accepted his version. I found Rizal and Rayyan’s testimony to have amply supported Saidi’s version.”
“I am of the view that the accused’s defence is a bare denial. Her denial is devoid of merits in light of the compelling testimonies by Rizal, Saidi and Rayyan. It is immaterial if the knapsacks were handed to her physically. I am resolute that the accused has failed to rebut the presumption on a balance of probabilities and the prosecution had proven the case beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.
Meanwhile, Judge Mohamed Zaini also gave credit to then education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid for doing the right thing despite Saidi being a close friend of his and suggesting that Saidi and Jepak go through the proper process of open tender.
“Mahdzir tried to convince Datuk Seri Najib Razak to use an open tender system for the project and not direct negotiaton. Najib was adamant and told him to carry out the instructions. On the second instance, Mahdzir also advised Najib to defer the issuance of the letter of award to Jepak, as the letter had not met the ministry’s requirements.”
“Nevertheless Najib ignored his plea and instructed him to follow his instructions. It is indeed amazing that a contract worth RM1.25 billion could simply be awarded merely by penning minutes without going through the expected procedures that will serve as check and balance,” the judge observed.