A lawyer's attempt to link projects which were rushed during the tenure of other prime ministers with what Datuk Seri Najib Razak had done fell flat today. - NSTP/SYARAFIQ ABD SAMAD

KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer's attempt to link projects which were rushed during the tenure of other prime ministers with what Datuk Seri Najib Razak had done fell flat today.

It happened after Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim countered it with one simple query on what Najib had to show from the RM4 billion that was given to SRC International, a Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) linked company.

Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had gone down the path by bringing up the issue of how former prime ministers had also bypassed procedures to implement projects of national importance.

He cited the first Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) and the construction of the North South Highway as examples when cross examining a prosecution witness.

Shafee asked the witness, former Treasury Secretary General Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah, if he knew how then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had to get things going quickly to ensure the inaugural Lima was successful and the highway project took off.

"Do you know that for the first Lima there were not enough rooms in Langkawi so some entrepreneurs were asked to build hotels before the land acquisition was done.

"One 103-roomed hotel was built in 100-days. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with it...in fact I laud it.

"The North South Highway by the UEM Group too was a project which was pushed very hard by the then prime minister and the paperwork only followed later," he said.

Shafee said he had many other examples, including projects which happened under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's time, but there was no need for him to reveal them to drive home his point.

The veteran lawyer brought it up after asking Wan Abdul Aziz if there was anything wrong for Najib to have asked the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to expedite the release of a RM2 billion loan to SRC International even though the government guarantee letter for it had yet to be issued.

Wan Abdul Aziz, who was also former KWAP chairman, had on Tuesday testified that Najib had called him to request for the pensioner's fund to release a RM2 billion loan to SRC International before the paperwork was formalised.

He said this was an exceptional practice as a loan can only be released after the guarantee letter was obtained.

However, Shafee today sugggested that it was normal for paperwork to take time and there was "nothing illegal, immoral or wrong" for the ex-prime minister to ask KWAP to consider releasing the funds beforehand.

"It was not wrong or inappropriate. Do You agree there was no wrongdoing because sometimes it needs to be done?

"Moreover, SRC International too was a company set up as a strategic special purpose vehicle to boost the economy," he asked, to which Wan Abdul Aziz agreed.

Shafee: Everything was done above board, very transparent right?

Wan Abdul Aziz: Yes

Shafee: There was nothing to trigger the alarm bells that the loan should not be given to SRC International.

Wan Abdul Aziz: Agreed

However, immediately after that, Suhaimi asked the 64-year old witness if SRC International had any results to show, after getting the RM4 billion from KWAP.

To this, Wan Abdul Aziz also agreed that there were no visible results shown by SRC International and that he also did not know what had happened to the money.

Suhaimi: Do you know what happened to the money for the SRC International projects?

Wan Abdul Aziz : I don't know.

Suhaimi: Did you see the outcome of the PLUS and Lima projects?

Wan Abdul Aziz: Yes

Earlier, Shafee also talked about how SRC International could have been another Petronas for Malaysia.

Shafee: Do you agree that the purpose of SRC International's establishment was actually honourable.

Wan Abdul Aziz: Yes

Shafee: It was to be akin to another Petronas type of company.

Wan Abdul Aziz: Yes

Shafee: If that had been achieved, we would have another Petronas.

Wan Abdul Aziz : Yes

He also agreed with Shafee that in certain cases the government must be pro-active to implement projects, with the paper work only coming later.

Najib, 66, is facing seven counts of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money involving RM42-million of SRC International funds.

He is charged with committing the offences between Aug 17, 2011 and Feb 10, 2015.

The Pekan member of parliament faces 20-years' jail and fine for the offences, if convicted.

The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will continue on Monday.