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Sabah Water Department scandal: Engineer says he was forced to collect 27.5pc ‘contribution’
Published on: Saturday, May 27, 2023
By: Cynthia D Baga
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Sabah Water Department scandal: Engineer says he was forced to collect 27.5pc ‘contribution’
Suhaimi was testifying as the 36th witness before Sessions Court Judge Abu Bakar Manat in the trial of Ag Tahir, 58, his wife, Fauziah Piut, 55, who are jointly tried with
Kota Kinabalu: A water engineer told the court Friday that he was forced to collect a 27.5 per cent “contribution” from the divisional contractor so that the State Water Department (JANS) headquarters would approve allocations to the JANS division.

Former Beaufort divisional water engineer Suhaimi Asbullah, 59, said if he did not collect the “contribution” from the contractor, as ordered by Teo Chee Kong (who was the Kota Kinabalu divisional water engineer), it was possible that the JANS headquarters would not approve allocations for his area.

“I knew that 10.75 per cent of the contribution would be given to former JANS Director Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, who signed and issued the allocation warrants.

“I had to follow the instruction which was for all divisional engineers across Sabah.

“I may also be transferred if I fail to comply with Teo’s command. I know Teo received instructions from Ag Tahir to make all these things, as he (Teo) informed me about this matter himself.

“I did not complain because I was afraid that Ag Tahir and his group would do something to me,” said Suhaimi, who is the new Director of JANS.

Suhaimi was testifying as the 36th witness before Sessions Court Judge Abu Bakar Manat in the trial of Ag Tahir, 58, his wife, Fauziah Piut, 55, who are jointly tried with

Lim Lam Beng, 66, on 37 counts of money-laundering charges involving cash and bank savings amounting to RM61.57 million, as well as unlawful possession of luxury goods.

In his statement, Suhaimi confirmed that he attended the divisional/district water engineers meeting with Ag Tahir on April 7, 2005.

“During the meeting, Ag Tahir approved the resolution related to the Price Rate Table Guideline for use throughout Sabah and there was no issue raised by Ag Tahir pertaining to the guideline.

“After the meeting’s official agenda was done, unrelated staff were ordered out from the room, leaving only Teo and the divisional/district water engineers.

“During the unofficial meeting, Teo informed all the engineers about his discussion with former JANS Deputy Director Lim Lam Beng and, as instructed and agreed by

Ag Tahir, to collect a contribution of 27.5 per cent from the cost of the project implemented in their respective divisions.

“The contributions that will be collected will not harm the contractor because Teo has prepared an increased price rate to cover the contribution.

“Teo also informed the divisional/district water engineers that the 27.5 per cent contribution collected must be handed over to the respective departments,” said Suhaimi.

According to Suhaimi, 10.75 per cent from the collected contribution must be given to Teo. 

“If the 10.75 per cent was not handed over, the division involved will have difficulties in terms of getting allocations from the Director,” he said.

He further said from 2005, JANS Beaufort started to collect commission of 27.5 per cent from contractors which implemented works for JANS Beaufort.

“At that time, the allocation application was prepared by Beaufort Division Engineer and submitted to JANS Director at the headquarters for consideration and approval.

After receiving the letter of authority to spend allocations from the Sabah State Water Director, JANS Beaufort also started the quotation process.

“Selected contractors to participate in the quotation were informed of the need to pay a commission of 27.5 per cent of the project cost to the Beaufort Division Water Engineer.

All appointed contractors agreed to pay the commission specified.

“The contractor who participates in the quotation will be given the estimated cost of the project and the contractor who will get the work must enter the bid price as determined by JANS,” Suhaimi said.

To a question from the prosecution, Suhaimi said he gave between RM800,000 and RM1 million a year to Teo.

He further said that after JANS Beaufort participated in the contribution scheme, JANS Beaufort received yearly additional allocation around 35 to 40 per cent from the previous scheme and the allocation was also more consistent.

According to Suhaimi, in 2016, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had raided the office of the JANS Beaufort.

“I was interrogated in my office in relation to this scheme and I have admitted the existence of this scheme and voluntarily handed over approximately RM1.6 million in cash that I earned from this scheme.

“I was taken to the MACC office in Kota Kinabalu and subsequently remanded there for eight days and seven nights and gave a statement to the MACC investigating officer.

“After my release, I was put on bail and I had to attend the MACC office every two months and this happened for three years.

“Regarding the money seized by the MACC, I did not challenge the seizure and the entire money has been agreed to be handed over to the Malaysian Government entirely,” said Suhaimi.

The trial will resume on June 20-23.

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