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I felt cheated over the ‘smart partnership’ deal that never happened - Witness

08/04/2021 08:41 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8  -- A witness in the trial of former Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony told the Sessions Court here today that he felt he had been cheated by the politician over the maintenance and services work project for mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). 

Former Ulink Property Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Said, 66, said as a result of the alleged cheating in the contract, he was also subjected to disciplinary action and fined by the UMS management, and also made to switch positions from being UMS’ registrar to chairman of a UMS subsidiary company in 2015. 

“In this context, I was very affected after being cheated by Peter as our (UMS and Peter’s company, Asli Jati Engineering Sdn Bhd) objective of cooperating was for a smart partnership, but what got approved was the renewal of the mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems’ maintenance and services contract to Asli Jati,” he said in a dejected tone. 

Abdullah said the smart partnership programme was initiated by Peter, one that would involve cooperation between Ulink Property and Asli Jati, in which the company was to construct a building at UMS’ Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme for skills training and short-term courses.

The ninth prosecution witness said this when replying to Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin in the trial of the former Sabah minister who is facing charges of using false documents relating to the contract. Peter is the managing director of Asli Jati Engineering.

Abdullah also informed that he lodged a report at the Putatan Police Station, Penampang, Sabah on March 27 because he had been harassed by Peter and his representatives through phone calls and short messaging service in several incidents between Nov 6, 2017 and May 25, 2021.

He told the court that the harassment included being asked to contact him over a case being handled by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and to affirm the contents of a document as true, in which he (Abdullah) declined to do so. 

Meanwhile, former UMS deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Prof. Dr. Shariff Abd Kadir Shariff Omang, 66, told the court that he too, felt cheated by Peter, who had asked him to sign two letters of recommendation that were supposedly meant for the ‘smart partnership’ between Ulink Property and Asli Jati Engineering, which eventually turned out to be for the contract renewal. 

Recalling incidents that took place in early July 2014, Shariff said along with Abdullah, he had met the UMS vice-chancellor, Prof. Datuk Dr. Mohamad Harun Abdullah to inform about the ‘smart partnership’ programme.

“Datuk Abdullah and I told Datuk Mohamad Harun that a recommendation letter will be issued because this cooperation will bring benefit to UMS,” Shariff, who was also subject to disciplinary action because of the recommendation letter he signed, said. 

Shariff said on June 8 or 9, 2014 he handed over two blank Vice Chancellor's Office letterheads to a businessman who was also Abdullah's nephew, known as Mohd Shukur Mohd Din, who also happened to be Peter's friend.

“I recall insisting during the meeting that the letters must be about the smart partnership programme. I told Mohd Shukur to handle it because I did not have time to prepare it myself,” he said when reading out his witness statement. 

However, he said on June 9 and 11, 2014, he was asked to sign two recommendation letters related to a five-year contract for mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems’ maintenance and services works at UMS’ buildings via direct negotiation. 

“I confirmed not preparing one of the letters as it differed from what was agreed in our discussions, but I did confirm signing it as I was told to do so by Datuk Peter.

“As for the letter dated July 11, 2014, I was not given time to read it and forced to sign it. I had no choice as he was a very influential man in Sabah. If I had known the contents were different than what was earlier discussed, I would not have signed them,” he said. 

Peter, 50, as the managing director of Asli Jati Sdn Bhd, is charged with forging a letter from the UMS deputy vice chancellor's office dated June 9, 2014, by inserting a false statement in the title of the letter with the intention of using it to deceive the office of the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya between June 13, 2014, and Aug 21, 2014.

He was also charged on the optional charge as the managing director of Asli Jati Sdn Bhd over the use of a false document as genuine, namely a letter from the office of the deputy vice-chancellor of UMS dated June 9, 2014, which had a false statement in the title of the letter, and he had reason to believe that the document is false, in the same place and time.

Peter was also charged under Section 468 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine and under Section 471 of the Penal Code and is punishable under Section 465 of the same code which carries a jail term of up to two years, or a fine, or both, if convicted.

The trial before Judge Azura Alwi continues on April 19. 





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