KUALA LUMPUR: A contractor who built a storeroom for hanging clothes at Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s house provided some comic relief at the latter’s trial today.
The contractor described how he had received a call from one of Najib’s aides who told him that “Orang No 1” wanted him to built some kitchen cabinets and a storeroom at his residence in Jalan Langgak Duta.
The “Orang No 1” he referred to was the former prime minister, the witness, an Indonesian interior designer named Zulkarnain Mohamad, 46, said.
Zulkarnain said he had received a call from someone called Encik Amirul in August or September of 2014.
He said Amirul wanted him to go to a house in Jalan Langgak Duta.
“When I got there, I asked him whose house it was. He told me it was “rumah orang No 1, rumah Najib (Najib’s house).
“I told him I was not qualified to work at such a place, but he said I could do it as he had seen my work,” he said.
His response, referring to Najib as Orang No 1, elicited sniggers in the court room, including the prosecution and defence teams.
Zulkarnain said he proceeded to undertake the work after giving a quotation.
He said the job was completed within three months, even though work had to be halted whenever Najib was at home.
“We were told not to work when he was around... maybe it was because of the noise,” he said, adding he was also involved in building a police post at the house.
He later confirmed receiving a deposit of RM50,000 and a cheque of RM100,000 on Feb 12, 2014, for the work done.
During cross-examination by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Zulkarnain said he did not know the storeroom was going to be used to hang whose clothes.
He also said he did not know that Najib had another official residence in Putrajaya but that the latter spent most of his time at the Jalan Langgak Duta residence.
Meanwhile, another prosecution witness, a businessman who owns Syarikat MOZ Malaysia Sdn Bhd, testified that he had installed a 12,000-litre water tank at Najib’s house in 2015 and was paid RM56,500 for the job.
Mohammad Zakariyya Zearat Khan, 35, said his company was on the panel of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) and he had been asked to look into water issues at Najib’s house.
He also confirmed receiving the payment via an AmBank cheque on Feb 24, 2015.
When asked what he did with the cheque after receiving it, Zakariyya had an incredulous look on his face and staring straight at the DPP, he replied:
“I banked it in. The cheque cleared,” he said, eliciting all round laughter in the courtroom including from Najib who was seated in the dock.
Earlier, the judge, Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, rejected the defence’s preliminary objection against the prosecution’s move to call the two witnesses.
One of Najib’s counsel, Farhan Read, had raised the issue arguing that any proposed evidence from the witnesses would have no relation to the charges faced by his client.
He said, therefore, their evidence should be excluded on grounds that they do not pass the legal threshold of relevancy.
However, deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram countered that the court could not prematurely disallow evidence and that the prosecution should be given the liberty to call witnesses.
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, the lead prosecutor, also chipped in and said the application should be rejected as the prosecution could not be expected to establish its case if it was prevented from calling the witnesses.
“That cannot be right,” he said.
The trial will continue on Monday.