Witness agrees Najib should've left Cabinet meeting on SRC if he received payment from firm

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 20): Former Cabinet deputy chief secretary Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid told the High Court today that if Datuk Seri Najib Razak had received payment from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc), he would be required to declare his interests in Cabinet meetings discussing the company.

Mazidah, 70, who is the prosecution's 40th witness, said when the paper on SRC was presented to the Cabinet sometime in 2011 or 2012, it was immediately passed and there was no deliberation.

"There was no deliberation [on SRC] as if there [were] any, they would be reflected in the cabinet minutes," she said when replying to questions from Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram.

Mazidah said if a minister had an interest in the matters to be brought up through the Cabinet memorandum, they would have to declare their interests and leave the meeting where the memorandum is tabled.

She cited two previous incidents where former Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had left meetings after declaring their interests.

The meeting would continue after they excused themselves, she added.

Through Mazidah, the prosecution had showed that Najib had remained and even chaired Cabinet meetings discussing SRC's request for government guarantees to back its loan applications in Aug 2011 and Feb 2012.

From other prosecution witnesses earlier, the prosecution had shown that the RM42 million from SRC — over which Najib is charged for criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering — flowed from the company's subsidiaries Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd and into Najib's personal bank account.

Ishan Perdana Sdn Bhd's managing director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar had testified that he had transferred the sum in three tranches on Dec 26, 2014 and Feb 10, 2015 into the former premier's account.

He said that had he known the account belonged to Najib, he would not have made the transfers.

Defence tried to show Dr M did not declare interests
During Mazidah's cross-examination by senior lawyer Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden, the witness said Najib had no blood ties with anyone in SRC, which was probably why the former prime minister did not leave the meeting.

She also did not know that Najib was the adviser emeritus for the company.

Mazidah added that usually, a person who has family links to the individuals involved in companies or projects discussed in Cabinet meetings would declare his or her interests and leave the cabinet meeting.

Throughout her cross-examination, Najib's defence, led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee, tried to show that other prime ministers, especially Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had not left Cabinet meetings or declared their interests in matters they deliberated on.

The defence cited several instances including the Bumiputera Bank scandal, the BMF Bank scandal, the deal involving Malaysian International Shipping Corporation's (MISC) purchase of shipping interests of Datuk Mirzan Mahathir in 1998 or Petronas matters.

Mazidah remembers that there was an occasion when Dr Mahathir had not excused himself from Cabinet meetings on an issue discussed related to Petronas, which falls under the purview of the Prime Minister's Office.

She, however, said that she cannot answer regarding the BMF or Bumiputera cases, as she was not Cabinet secretary then.

The witness served as Cabinet secretary for a long time — from Dr Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister in the 1990's, to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's premiership from 2004 to April 2009, and Najib from 2009 to May 9, 2018, before serving once more under Dr Mahathir from May 10, 2018 onwards.