Under the guise of management fee, controversial government agency PADUCorporation (PADU) made an unprecedented request for RM7 million or 2% of the RM360 million meant to provide free computer tablets to teachers nationwide.
This came even after PADU had been paid RM1.1 million as one-off payment to manage the scheme by the project funder/Cash Cow, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under Phase 2.
The contractor, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad (Utusan), refused to meet PADU’s 2% demand, stating in a letter dated 9 April 2018 that it was not agreeable to paying the said amount.
The salient points in the said letter, signed by none other than one of the key players in this scandalous project Datuk Mohd Noordin bin Abbas (a former banker), Managing Director of Utusan, are as follows:
The requests by PADU for the RM7 million or 2% management fees exceeded our authority including myself;
SKMM never agreed that this fees to be paid to PADU;
When this tablet project was discussed in 2016 the necessity of this fees had not been brought up;
During the meeting on 11 January 2018 Pengarah BTP and CEO of Padu, Puan Khadijah Abdullah, who had attended the meeting, had agreed to apply to Prime Minister Office through Minister of Education for the management fees; and
For Utusan, we act as a DELIVERY CONTRACTOR of the Tablets to the teachers as directed by PADU and MOE.’
The Four Key Little Napoleons For Phase 1 – 6
The RM7 million Or 2%
The 2% request raises a troubling question whether PADU, a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of Ministry of Education (MOE), was asking for a “clawback” or “kickback”.
Yours truly will boldly regard this a “kickback” because it is a norm for management fee to be entered into contracts at the outset and more so not sat the tail end.
According to the said Utusan letter of 9 April 2018 even the MCMC was not informed about PADU seeking RM7 million from Utusan.
MCMC had granted the RM360 million funding to PADU, which contracted Utusan to provide 430,000 tablets, pre-installed with E-Tutor app and Utusan Malaysia newspaper, to teachers over seven phases.
If PADU needed another round of management fee, it should have incorporated the 2% into the contract at the start and informed the relevant authorities.
Doesn’t the demand for management fee, more than a year after the contract was signed, indicate that the price of the tablets was INFLATED?
Basically, there was too much money in hand that would encourage predators to prey on the millions of Ringgit.
After all, it was a ‘god sent’ contract whereby even delivery of the gadgets was ridiculously supported by Statutory Declaration (SD) in HERE.
In the SD, Utusan had specified that if it failed to deliver the gadgets, it will compensate PADU RM573 per tablet. The thing is, Padu was contracted to buy per tablet at RM853 from Utusan. At this moment no one know how much was the actual cost of the tablet.
According to a report from MOE, Huawei tablets were according to specs for Phase 1 and Lenovo for Phase 2 – 5 not according to specs. We will together discuss this damning report in more detail in another part later. If we are to assume that the actual cost of the tablet was RM573 per unit then, Utusan was making RM280 (RM853-RM573) per tablet for just playing its role as delivery boy so to speak. It was too good to be true that Utusan made a profit of RM280 per tablet! If the profit was RMM280 then Utusan would have made RM120.4 million for the 430,000 tablets! God forbid!
Is Epiweb Sdn Bhd A Special Purpose Vehicle For WHO?
Who was the real culprit behind this Special Purpose Vehicle “Utusan-Epiweb Sdn Bhd Collection Account”? Who was the biggest beneficiary of this special Purpose Vehicle? Only an in-depth investigation into the paper trail by MACC will reveal the real culprit. We are lucky that YB Gobind Singh Deo, the Minister of Communications and Multi Media had announced that his ministry will lodge a report with MACC over this scam. Lets see when the ministry will do it. Yours truly would have thought that in the light of what have been exposed the Minister of Education would have reported tis matter to MACC. may be the minister is too preoccupied with the sorting out the issue of black and white shoes!
Remember there was another middle man in this transaction called EPIWEB SDN BHD, the so-called supplier of the tablets to Utusan. En Khairul Firdaus, who is not a director of Epiweb Sdn Bhd and signed the supply agreement with Utusan. Upon receipt of RM18,402,690.25 on 27 April 201 (justbefore 14 GE) for most questionable Phase 6, the special purpose vehicle “UTUSAN-EPIWEB SDN BHD Collection Account” paid out RM10,402,690.25 to Redberry Sdn Bhd, which was not a party to the contract between Utusan – Padu or Epiweb Sdn Bhd – Utusan, HERE. The remaining RM8 million of the RM18,402,690.25 received from PADU went to Utusan. It would appear from this particular transaction Epiweb Sdn Bhd received nothing from the payment under Phase 6! This raises more questions for PADU and MOE to answer. For phase 1 – 5, did Reberry receive any payment from this special purpose vehicle – “Utusan – Epiweb Collection Account”?
Redberry Media Group (Redberry) is one of the special outfits of Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei, who was arrested and detained by MACC together with Ms Elizabeth Ken in connection with the ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Geeko Tech RM99.693 million deal with Tourism Malaysia for four days in January 2019. By coincidence, Ms Ms Elizabeth Ken, who is a shareholder and CEO of Geeko Tech Sdn Bhd and the media specialist of Redberry and Dato Dr’ Siew Ka Wei (Siew) is the MD of Redberry. Siew is also a current executive chairman of public listed company Ancom Bhd, which is the parent company of Redberry, and Group MD of Nylex Bhd (part of Ancom Bhd). Redberry is the owner of the defunct Malay Mail (printed version) and the equally famous Datuk Wong Sai Wan is the editor-in-chief, who is a director of several of Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei’s outfits. Datuk Wong is the only one of a few editors in chief in Malaysia , who is a director of several companies, HERE.
PADU, The “VENDOR FRIENDLY” – Must Be Shut Down!
By all accounts, one can declare PADU the most “vendor friendly” company in the world!
PADU must be shut down for gross mismanagement and sloppy supervision of what was a novel IT project to digitalise education. At last the little napoleons at the top management in PADU had fleeced it like other projects under the last BN administration. Its existence is a waste of public fund. In the interim, the PH government must commission a forensic audit into its accounts.
The deafening silence on the part of PADU and/or MOE is most alarming. Don’t tell us the Minister of Education is equally “Tidak Apa” as the little napoleons in PADU!
Updates 19 July 2019 @ 11:00 am: The “gaji buta” TOPless management of PADU are well paid for championing their own interest instead of the rakyat. This tablet scandal is a very good example for the Minister of Education to see and take drastic actions against them. Unfortunate the Minister is too engrossed with how to get the students to wear “black shoes”! Therefore, he “buat tak tahu” about this scandal worth RM300 million! We shall wake him up soon with more parts to this scandal.
Rumour has it that previous CEO of PADU, Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah, monthly salary was RM60,000 plus perks special allowance, car, petrol and etc, and CFO En Ahmad Izzat bin Zaki more than RM38,000.00 plus perks a month . Both went all out to facilitate the tablet project especially on the one sided contract and making “speedy Gonzales” payments to the special account “Utusan – EPIWEB Collection Account”. PH Government must held both of these two little napoleons personally liable by surcharging them as provided under the General Order because they chose to facilitate bad governance and defy JK Pemandu’s decision of 17 April, 2018 to stop the tablet project before GE14. Both went ahead to pay RM18,402,690.25! The PH Government must also look at the salary scale of the agencies like PADU.
Updates 18July 2019 @ 10:00 pm: Under Phase 1 for the the scandalous Tablet Project, PADU contracted with Utusan that upon acceptance of the “Surat Setuju Terima” (SST) by Utusan, PADU shall immediately pay 95% of the value of SST of RM50 million. PADU paid RM47.25 million to the Special Purpose Vehicle Account called“Utusan – EPIWEB Collection Account” without a single tablet being delivered by Utusan. This aspect of the ridiculous contract was not even highlighted in the “Autar” General Report. You don’t need capital to do business with PADU. PADU will abuse Rakyat money to help you. Actually not for the normal rakyat but a special breed only.
As the dishonesty and collapse of the RM360 million free computer tablet project for teachers nationwide spins out of control, the Auditor General’s Report 2018 kept elegantly silent over the debacle.
The full scale of the scandal was not revealed in the report and that speaks volumes about the culture of systemic graft involving political and corporate entities under the previous Barisan Nasional government.
The then Auditor “Autar” General Tan Sri Madinahbinti Mohamad has dragged herself into the scandal by overlooking critical issues in the report about the project which is under the purview of the Ministry of Education (MOE).
That makes the contemptible mismanagement of taxpayers’ money even more outrageous as multiple top civil servants had breached their duties as government officials to partake in misusing funds together with private entities.
Since yours truly published four articles that exposed discrepancies, wanton management of funds, outsiders gate crashing the project and zero governance, it is becoming clearer by the day that the rot is getting deeper.
It must be noted that at the material time Tan Sri Madinah was the secretary general (KSU) of MOE before her appointment as Auditor“Autar” General from February 2017 to February 2019.
On 13 June 2016, the disgraced Tan Sri Madinah chaired the ‘Pre-Price Negotiation Meeting’ to discuss the proposed contract for the E-Tutor Tablets between PADU Corporation (PADU) and Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad for seven phases, where Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei, who is not a party to the contract, attended as Utusan Melayu sdn Bhd’s (Utusan) representative, HERE.
For context, the contractual parties for the project are PADU Corporation, a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of MOE, and Utusan.
The RM360 million funding was granted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to MOE but MOE, when Tan Sri Madinah was the KSU, passed the Tablet Project to PADU. Why?
The said contract, without open tender, was for the free supply of 430,000 computer tablets with pre-installed Tutor Guru app and Utusan Malaysia e-paper to teachers by June 2018.
The silence of PADU and/or the Minister of Education, YB Datuk Mazlee Malik, confirms the arrogance of power and zero sense of public accountability.
YB Mazlee should learn from YB Gobind Singh Deo, who on learning about the the abuse of MCMC funds in the AG’s Report, immediately instructed his ministry to lodge a MACC report on the misuse of more than RM600 million. HERE.
The Shoddy AG’s Report 2018
Let’s look at the incongruities in the slipshod AG’s report that was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on 15 July 2019.
In para 8-45, it was most unprecedented when the contractual parties were identified by their company registration numbers.
PADU was listed as company no: 1039148 and Utusan 7170-V.
Now, how would the MPs and/or the rakyat know that these company numbers represented PADU and Utusan respectively?
The report was cunningly crafted with the predominant purpose to mislead if not covering up .
It stated that under Phase 1, the tablets for Wilayah Persekutuan and Sarawak were according to specifications but it chose not to touch on phases 2-5.
The MOE had stated in their own report that the Lenovo tablets were not in accordance with specifications under phases 2-5.
The Two Acceptance By Utusan& Payment by Padu for Phase 6 before GE 14
The report also stated that phases 1–5 involving 312,353 units of E-Tutor Tablets were delivered at a cost of RM260.50 million.
For Phase 6, audit found out that on 4 April 2018, MCMC paid RM52.64 million to a company, numbered in the report as 1039148-H (which is PADU)!
It was extremely mischievous of the AG to state:
Bagi Fasa 6, pihak Audit mendapati SKMM menyalurkan dana berjumlah RM52.64 juta kepada syarikat 1039148-H pada 4 April 2018 dan Surat Setuju Terima (SST) telah ditandatanganni oleh syarikat pembekal 7170-V pada 26 April 2018.”
To the unsuspecting eye, this part of the report appears to be perfectly all right.
Except that the AG was mischievous in glaringly omitting the date of the SST, which was also on 26 April 2018!
If this date had been incorporated in the report it would have set off alarm bells.
Why? Because the whole process of issuance of SST by PADU, acceptance by Utusan a were all in done in one day, 26 April 2018, if we were to assume there was only one acceptance letter from Utusan, and payment made by PADU on the next day.
Even more glaring of the AG’s incompetence or failure to do a thorough investigation was to knowingly failing to state that originally Utusan had signed the acceptance of the SST on 30 April 2018 and subsequently backdated by another acceptance to 26 April 2018 in order to make the transaction look legitimate for what it is worth.
This acceptance letter of 30 April 2018 was extended to your truly by an unknown source in Utusan. A source in MOE also confirmed that there were two acceptance letters from Utusan to support the payment of RM18,402,690.25 namely 30 April and 26 April 2018.
It must be also noted that the report chose to totally ignore the important minutes of JK Pemandu (Steering Committee) of MOE dated 17 April 2018 which in para 4.4 had decided as follows:
Mesyuarat MEMUTUSKAN bahawa Fasa 6 ditangguhkan sehingga selepas PRU14”. Please read HERE.
Yet the CFO of PADU, En Ahmad Izzat bin Zaki, went ahead to prepare the cheque for the then CEO Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah and Datuk Seri Alias bin Ahmad to sign. Three of them chose to defy the said JK Pemandu’s decision of 17 April, 2019, and proceed to pay the RM18,402,690.25 to the Special Purpose Vehicle Account called “Utusan EPIWEB Collection Account”. After the RM18,402,690.35 was paid, not a single tablet was delivered because of the one sided agreement.
The Famous Datuk Seri Alias Bin Ahmad
By the way Datuk Seri Alias bin Ahmad (Alias) was appointed KSU of MOE after Tan Sri Madinah was appointed “Autar” General in February 2017, HERE. When he was involved in the “solar project” in Sarawak! Just a bit of background of Alias, when he was the DG of Immigration Department he had knowledge of UKSB, the visa processing company, HERE. Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the former DPM, was charged for corruption involving UKSB! Sarawak Report had reproduced letter from Najib, the then PM, to Datuk Seri Alias, the then KSU of MOE, to disburse RM130 million for the scandalous Solar Project for schools in Sarawak which cost RM1.25 billion, HERE. This scandalous solar project had been investigated by MACC.
These three little napoleons (Khadijah, Izzat & Alias) were extremely efficient when making payment to the special purpose vehicle account. They were prepare to ignore procedures and decisions made by MOE’s JK Pemandu. WHY? WHY? WHY? “Tahu sama tahu”!!!
These three little napoleons should be held personally liable for this payment of RM18,402,690.25 and be surcharged under the General Order of the Government. These two little napoleons must be taught a lesson and be an example for other civil servants. Although Khadijah’s contract was not renewed, and Alias had retired, they could be made personally liable under the General Order. Surcharged them for abused of public fund!
The Statutory Declaration As Proof Of Deliveries
The said Report also chose to totally omit the fact that for Phase 1 the proof of deliveries were supported by Statutory Declaration (SD) signed by Datuk Mohd Noordin bin Abbas, the then MD of Utusan. Upon receipt of these two SDs, PADU immediately paid out the remaining 5% for Phase 1 and 2 to the “UTUSAN-EPIWEB Collection Account”. What a good way of doing business with PADU!
The report also chose to glaringly omit that all payments made by PADU were not to Utusan but to a special purpose vehicle “Utusan – EPIWEB Collection Account”, which is not a party in the agreement between PADU and Utusan. There was no mentioned in the said Report which party were all the payments made to by PADU.
Reliable sources in MOE said that 2,000 units of tablet under these two SDs are unaccounted for. The total value of it is RM1.7 million.
The Payment For Phase 6 – Why Redberry, a Siew Ka Wei’s outfit, was paid from the Special Purpose Vehicle Account?
All said, it was a very poor attempt by the then “Autar” General, Tan Sri Madinah to assist in the covering up of this scandalous payment of RM18, 402,690.25!
It must be noted that from this special purpose vehicle account the RM18,402,690.25 payment for Phase 6 was deposited on 30 April 2018.
On the same day, RM10,402,690.25 was paid to Redberry Sdn Bhd (Redberry), which is an outfit under tainted ex-Tourism Malaysia chairman, Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei (Siew). Siew is the current executive chairman of public listed Ancom Bhd, Group MD of Nylex Bhd and MD of Redberry Media Group. On 9 January 2019 both Siew and his media specialist in Redberry Media Group, Elizabeth Ken, were arrested and detained by MACC, for their alleged involvement in the scandalous “Speedy Gonzales” RM99.693 million Geeko – Tourism Malaysia Deal, HERE.
What was this RM10,402,690.25 payment for? God only knows.
Whether Redberry was paid any money under phases 1-5 must be made public. Redberry was not a party in the agreement between PADU and Utusan and neither was it a party in the supply agreement between Utusan and Epiweb Sdn Bhd.
What we know is that Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei was listed as a Utusan representative – when he was never with the company — without designation in a pre-price negotiation meeting with PADU, chaired by Tan Sri Madinah, on 13 June 2016.
The role of Redberry‘s media specialist Ms Elizabeth Ken was also disclosed by this blog, HERE. She signed the Supply, Delivery and Maintenance Agreement on 3 December 2015, between Utusan Melayu and Epiweb Sdn Bhd as the witness for the latter’s signatory, En Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, who is not a director of the company, but well connected politically.
The Letter of YB Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Syed Keruak dated 22 April 2016
It would appear from this that as early as in December 2015 (5 months early), Ms Elizabeth Ken had prior knowledge of the impending tablet project, which was only proposed by the then Minister of Communications and Multimedia on 22 April 2016,Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Keruak.
Datuk Salleh only issued a letter dated 22 April 2016 specifically stated that MOE was to manage funds granted by MCMC for the said tablet Project the purchase of tablets for teachers using MCMC funds and that his ministry had no objection to a grant of RM50 million for this tablet project.
Quite frankly, the AG’s Report on the tablet project is a sham and not worth the paper it was printed on. It is a case of “Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi”!
The Ministry of Finance and MACC must investigate why this “half past six” report was crafted to mislead Parliament and the Rakyat.
Close Down The Useless PADU
This tablet project has been shrouded with secrecy. One would have thought that a project worth RM360 million would have been widely published in PADU’s website and its Annual Report 2016 and 2017 . The 2018 report is coming out and it is pretty sure that the Tablet Project will not be mentioned at all too. . But not a word about the tablet project was published in the PADU’s website or in its Annual Reports. PADU’s top management knew that the tablet project is just a sham. PADU’s existence is now open to big question mark. PH Government should close it down and save all the money for more usual activities that will really help the teachers and students. Close down PADU and the government will do a big favour for the nation.
Updated at 16 July 2019 @ 8:30 pm: YB Gobind Singh Deo, the Minister of Communications & Multimedia said that his ministry will lodge a MACC report over the abuse of MCMC Funds as stated in the Auditor General Report 2018, HERE.
Updated at 16 July 2019 @ 11 am: Auditor-General Report 2018, which was tabled in Parliament today, at para 8-64 (e) states that “the department had done a random check in the schools in Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya and the tablets were according to specs as per contract”. This was correct as for Phase 1 of the project. Wilayah and Sarawak is under Phase 1. Brand of tablets for Phase 1 was Huawei. Huawei tablets were according to specs as per contract. As for Phase 2 – 5 Lenovo tablets were supplied instead of Huawei. According to two reports dated 8th March 2018 and 11 June 2018 by Ministry of Education the Lenovo tablets, which were supplied, were not in accordance with the specs. It is strange that the Auditor General Report chose not to mention about Phase 2-5. Furthermore, in the said AG report the name of PADU and Utusan Melayu were left out. It refers to PADU by Company No: 039148-H) and Utusan by No: 7170V with no names. It is most unusual for AG Report not to mention names of the company or organisation in its report. Why the omission? Something to hide? It looks like a “half past six” report on the scandalous tablet project!
It must be noted that Tan Sri Madinah Binti Mohamad was the Secretary-General of MOE in 2016. She chaired the first “Pre-Price Negotiation” meeting on 13 June 2016 where the tablet project was discussed and the famous corporate genuis, Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei, attended as a representative of Utusan, HERE. Tan Sri Madinah had attended many meetings and wrote several letters to facilitate this tablet project. Subsequently, she was appointed as the infamous Auditor General from 20 February 2017 to 22 February 2019. The 2018 Auditor General Report was prepared during her time. Therefore, it is understandable why the said report was written in such a way! Another shameless character.
Yours truly has just included the minutes of Pemandu meeting of 17 April 2018 below which stated that Phase 6 to be stopped until after 14th GE. Please read para 4.4 of the said minutes. However, Puan Khadijah Abdullah (CEO of PADU) and En Ahmad Izzat Zaki (CFO of PADU) proceeded to make payment of RM18, 402,690.25 for Phase 6 of the scandalous tablet project. Up to this date, not a single tablet has been delivered because of the lopsided contract. These two culprits must be held personally liable.
Yours truly will discuss this issues in greater details in the other part later.
The sham over the failed mega project to provide free 430,000 computer tablets to teachers nationwide has uncovered more filth.
Media group Redberry Sdn Bhd, a non-player in the bombed RM340 million project, was paid a hefty RM10,402,690.25 under Phase six of the scheme.
Up to this date, PADU had received a total of RM310 million from the cash cow, MCMC, supposedly for this tablet project!
Documents obtained by yours truly from a reliable source show that on 26 April 2018 (just before 14th General Elections (GE) ) PADU Corporation (PADU) issued a “Surat Terima Setuju Terima” (SST) in lightning speed to Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd (Utusan).
On 27 April 2018 PADU immediately issued a cheque amounting to RM18,402,690.25 to the “Utusan-EPIWEB Collection Account”, which does not appear to be a legal entity by itself. At the time of the issuance of the said cheque, Utusan had yet to accept the SST. This was evident of zero governance on the part of PADU. It was treating MCMC as a cash cow!
On 30 April 2018RM10,402,690.25 was paid out from the bank account of “Utusan-Epiweb Collection Account” to Redberry Sdn Bhd (Redberry), which is controlled by the disgraced ex-chairman of Tourism Malaysia (TM), Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei. The RM10,402,690.25 represented 56.52% of the total of RM18,402,690.25 from PADU. This was for Phase Six only!
Whether Redberry was paid any money under the previous Phases 1 – 5 of the tablet project that is under the purview of the Ministry of Education (MOE) must now be revealed.
The contractual parties for the project are PADU, a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of MOE, and Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd.
The said contract, without open tender, was for the free supply of 430,000 computer tablets with pre-installed Tutor Guru app and Utusan Malaysia e-paper to teachers by June 2018.
The funds were granted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to PADU. Up to this date, MCMC, the cash cow, had paid RM310 million to PADU from its MCMC Funds.
PADU had paid about RM270 million to the special purpose vehicle “Utusan-Epiweb Collection Account”. PADU is still keeping the untilised MCMC Funds of RM43 million! Sources in MOE has it that the cash cow MCMC has demanded for the return of the unutilised fund of RM43 million but PADU is ignoring the said demand. There was positive action taken by MCMC to recover the RM43 million.
The Mysterious Redberry Sdn Bhd
Under the agreement between PADU and Utusan, Redberry had absolutely no role.
Similarly, Redberry had zero role under the agreement between Utusan and Epiweb Sdn Bhd, the supplier of the said tablets.
What is clear is that there was zero governance for the said tablet project by PADU.
It is baffling that Redberry, which was never a party of both contracts for the said tablet project, benefited greatly from the project, unless of course, the company through Dato Dr Siew Ka Wei, the well known corporate genius, had played his role more than attending the pre-price negotiation meeting on 13 June 2016. Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei, is the current executive chairman of public listed Ancom Bhd and Group MD of Nylex Bhd. In January 2019 he was arrested and detained together with the Redberry Media Group’s media specialist, Ms Elizabeth Ken by MACC, HERE. The defunct Malay Mail is part of Redberry Media Group.
What we know so far, as disclosed by yours truly, is that Dato Dr Siew Ka Wei was listed as a Utusan representative – when he was never with the company — without designation in a pre-price negotiation meeting with PADU on 13 June 2016. Please read HERE.
Since this blog exposed the debacle more than a week ago, no one has explained in what capacity Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei attended the pre-price negotiation meeting and possibly subsequent discussions and whether MOE and PADU were made aware of his role.
It was also disclosed that Redberry media specialist Ms Elizabeth Ken signed the Supply, Delivery and Maintenance Agreement between Utusan Melayu and politically-connected Epiweb Sdn Bhd as a witness for the latter on 3 December 2015, HERE.
It would appear from this that as early as in December 2015, Ms Elizabeth Ken had prior knowledge of the impending tablet project, which was only proposed by the then Minister of Communications and Multimedia on 22 April 2016.
The red flag, it appears, never came up and questions abound.
Why was Redberry paid?
How much in total was Redberry paid?
Were PADU and MOE aware that Redberry was getting paid?
Legally speaking, all payments should be paid to Utusan, the actual contractual party between PADU and Utusan, but the disbursements should have raised another red flag.
Below is what happened:
The cheques were made out to the account “Utusan-Epiweb Collection Account” which is not a legal entity, unless Utusan had assigned all sums payable to this special purpose vehicle and account.
Minutes of PEMANDU Meeting Of 17 April 2018
On 17 April 2018, the “Jawatankuasa Pemandu” of MOE (the special Steering Committee of MOE) decided that the tablet project be stopped until after 14th General Election. It would appear that PADU was given full power from somewhere to defy all decisions made in Steering Committee (Jawatankuasa Pemandu”).
BothPuan Khadijah (CEO of PADU) and En Ahmad Izzat (CFO of PADU) were present in the Pemandu meeting and knew of the decision taken to stop Phase 6 until after 14th GE and yet both went ahead to signed the cheque on 27 April 2018 for RM18, 402,690.25! These two officers must be made personally liable for the said payment by surcharging under the General Order of the government.
Another example was that the then all powerful CEO of PADU, Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah, dared to exceed her authority with the issuance of SST amounting to RM52,579,115.00 . It is the standard rule or practice that SST above RM5 million must be approved by the Board of Trustees of PADU. The officers of PADU do not care about proper governance and/or the law. The officers are the law!
The Powerful Personality
A powerful personality outside PADU and/or MOE was instrumental in getting PADU to proceed with the issuance of “Surat Setuju Terima” (SST) for Phase Six despite the decision made by the “Jawantankuasa Pemandu” of MOE on 17 April 2019 to stop Phase Six until after 14 GE. He was so confident that Barisan Nasional would win the 14th GE hands down that he secured a letter from the then Prime Minister’s press secretary to support Phase Six.
On 26 April 2018, the said SST was issued by PADU followed by a cheque for RM18,402,690.25 on 27 April 2018. On 27 April, which was on a Friday, the RM18,402,690.25 cheque was issued but at the material time the SST was not officially accepted by Utusan. This was the type of governance PADU/MOE style!
On 30 April 2018, Monday, (3 days after the issuance of the above cheque by PADU) Redberry then got paid RM10,402,690.25 from the “Utusan-Epiweb Collection Account”. Wasn’t it strange that Redberry a non-party to either the PADU – Utusan or Utusan – Epiweb Sdn Bhd agreements was paid RM10,402,690.25?
Silence is no longer an option for PADU/MOE and Ministry of Communication & Multimedia and/or MCMC.
The combination of Redberry Media Group’s (Redberry) managing director Dato Siew Ka Wei (SiEW) and its media specialist Elizabeth Ken has rattled the burgeoning scandal involving RM340 million to provide free computer tablets to teachers nationwide. For background articles on the tablet project please read Part 1 and Part 2.
SIEW is the current executive chairman of public listed Ancom Bhd and Group MD of Nylex Bhd. Redberry is part of Ancom Bhd’s group of companies. Redberry owned the defunct Malay Mail, whose editor in chief is none other than Datuk Wong Sai Wan.
SIEW’s involvement in meetings between PADU Corporation (PADU)– a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of the Ministry of Education (MOE) — and Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad, which was awarded the contract, raises serious questions.
SIEW, the disgraced ex-Tourism Malaysia chairman, sat without a designation as a Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad representative at a price negotiation meeting on 13 June 2016, HERE.
EPIWEB Sdn Bhd’s nature of business is “information technology consultation and related services”. It would appear that En Khairul Firdaus is not a director of Epiweb Sdn Bhd.
It would also appear from the above that as early as in December 2015, Elizabeth Ken, the media specialist of Redberry, had prior knowledge of the impending tablet project, which was only proposed by the then Minister of Communications and Multimedia, YB Datuk Seri Salleh Syed Keruak, at the end of April 2016.
The contract, without open tender, was for the free supply of 430,000 computer tablets with pre-installed Tutor Guru app and Utusan Malaysia e-paper to teachers by June 2018.
While it is acceptable for anyone to sign as a witness, Ms Elizabeth’s part in the agreement could suggest a lead role taken by her boss SIEW in the project.
Ms Elizabeth Ken is also a signatory in the ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Agreement involving Tourism Malaysia.
The Siew – Elizabeth connection first surfaced in the dubious Tourism Malaysia’s RM99.693 million “Speedy Gonzales-Geeko” tech deal that was done at lightning speed.
The Arrest & Detention of Siew & Ms Elizabeth Ken By MACC
Both were arrested and remanded for four days by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in January 2019. Investigations are continuing.
The tablet project meant to narrow the divide between teachers and students failed miserably due to zero governance, as did the Tourism Malaysia – Geeko Tech Sdn Bhd (GEEKO) scheme, HERE.
Elizabeth was the CEO of GEEKO, a 5-month old company, while Siew was Tourism Malaysia chairman when the deal was evaluated and negotiated. The contract was exchanged and sealed in ONE day on 4 April 2018!
Now that SIEW and Ms Elizabeth Ken have re-emerged into the public eye, we need to know the truth about the tablet deal.
The deafening silence by PADU and Ministry of Education over the issue is shameful.
In fact, all the parties including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which channeled the funds to PADU, should take responsibility and come clean.
If we really care about stopping corruption, we should be prepared for whatever may come of investigations. We should not protect shady characters but rather ensure that our trust and confidence are not exploited for the wrong reason.
SIEW and/or his outfits are seen as one of the key players in the disastrous RM340 million project, which involved MCMC Funds, to digitalise teaching in schools nationwide.
The initiative was meant to narrow the digital divide between teachers and students, which was a good decision, but it ended with all and sundry exploiting the said failed project.
Despite on 17 April 2018 Jawatankuasa PEMANDU Program ICT Sekolah Kementerian Pendidekan Malaysia Sessi Khas 2/2018“Memutuskan bahawa Fasa 6 ditangguhkan sehingga selepas PRU 14”, Padu Corporation (PADU) defied the said decision and on 27 April 2018 (some 12 days before 14th GE) it proceeded to pay another RM18,402,690.25 to Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad (Utusan) in lightning speed for Phase 6.
At that material time, PADU and MOE had full knowledge that the said tablet project for Phase 2 to 5 were failures. After the payment of RM18,402,269.00, not a single tablet was delivered to teachers!
ZERO GOVERNANCE IN PADU
The funds in PADU were managed with zero governance, to say the least. For example, the proof of deliveries of the tablets by Utusan to the teachers were done by sending copies of Statutory Declaration (SD) affirmed by its Group CEO, Dato’ Mohd Noordin Bin Abbas to PADU. Based on the said SD, PADU’s CEO, Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah, and PADU’s CFO, En Ahmad Izzat bin Ahmad Zaki, happily made payments of a few million Ringgit each upon accepting the statutory declarations as proofs of delivery! The little napoleons in PADU, treated the funds in PADU as their own or cash cow!
The funds from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) were channeled to PADU, a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of MOE.
PADU awarded the contract to Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad (UTUSAN) without open tender to supply free 430,000 units of computer tablets with pre-installed Tutor Guru app and Utusan Malaysia e-paper to teachers by June 2018.
It is startling that SIEW, the former Chairman of TM, executive Chairman of Ancom Bhd, managing director of Nylex Bhd, Redberry Media Group (Redberry) that owned the defunct Malay Mail, wore the Utusan Malaysia hat to attend the meeting in MOE.
THE 13 JUNE 2016 “PRE-PRICE NEGOTIATION” MEETING IN MOE
In the minutes of a “Pre-Price Negotiation” meeting on 13 June 2016 between PADU and Utusan Melayu, Dato Siew was listed without any designation under the Utusan team that attended the session.
The meeting to discuss pricing and supply of the gadgets to teachers in Sarawak under the first phase saw the attendance of all the MOE top guns.
They were the then Ketua Setiausaha (Tan Sri Dr Madinah binti Mohamad, who was later appointed the Auditor General), Timbalan Ketua Setiausaha (P) (En Jamil bin Rakon), the then Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif unit Pelaksanaan & Prestasi PADU (Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah, whose contract expired on 31 May 2019 and was not renewed), Setiausaha Bahagian Perolehan dan pengurusan Aset (Tuan Haji Shahid-Din bin Khatib), Pengarah Bahagian Teknologi Pendidikan (Tuan Haji Zaidi Bin Yazid), Timbalan Setiausaha Bahagian (K) Bahagian Kewangan (b), Ketua Pegawai Kewangan Unit Pelaksanaan & Prestasi Pendidikan (PADU) (En Ahmad Izzat bin Ahmad Zaki), Pengarah (Transformasi) Unit Pelaksanaan & Prestasi Pendidikan (PADU) (En Mohaammed Zekri bin Ghazali), Pegawai Khas KSU Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (KPM) (Cik Afidah binti Ashad) and Pengurus kewangan Unit Pelaksanaan & Prestasi Pendidikan (PADU) and (En Mohd Hizwan bin Ahmad).
According to reliable sources in MOE, the “three musketeers” in the scandalous tablet deal in PADU were:
Puan Khadijah binti Abdullah, the then CEO of PADU;
En Asrul Satria bin Abdul Rahim, the Special Officer to CEO; and
En Ahmad Izzat bin Ahmad Zaki, CFO of PADU
Utusan Melayu (M) Sdn Bhd
Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd were represented by its Pengarah Esekutif Kumpulan (Dato’ Mohd Nordin bin Abbas), the corporate genius Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei for Utusan Malaysia (M) Berhad (with no post) and Pengurus Besar Perkhidmatan Korporat & Pengurusan Risiko Utusan Melayu (M) Sdn Bhd (En Ahmad Razif bin Mohamed).
Siew Ka Wei’s role in the project raises worrying issues.
He was never part of Utusan Malaysia (M) Bhd group. So, in what capacity did he attend the pre-price negotiation meeting and subsequent discussions?
Did Utusan authorise his attendance as their representative?
If so, were the MOE and PADU made aware of this and checked on the credential of Siew Ka Wei?
In 2018/2019 Redberry Group and Nylex Bhd sued Utusan for the return of deposit for advertising — RM8.5 mil for Nylex and RM4.5 mil for Redberry. Wasn’t it strange that SIEW, who is the MD for Nylex and Redberry, sued Utusan when he represented Utusan in the said tablets “Pre-Price Negotiation” Meeting on 13 June 2016? Please readHERE,HERE & HERE.
Siew Ka Wei was appointed chairman of Tourism Malaysia on 21 Sept 2016 and it would have been unethical of him to have continued to be in this tablet business up to end of April 2018.
If you think the shady “Speedy Gonzales” RM100 mil CONtract with TM, where Siew Ka Wei and Elizabeth Ken were arrested and detained for four days by MACC, was bad wait till you see what had actually took place in the shady RM340 million tablet deal. The deal was funded using the MCMC Funds.
For a start, SIew Ka Wei, who was never part of Utusan Melayu, had attended the Padu’s Pre Price Negotiation meetings of the so-called tablet deal as a representative of Utusan Melayu. Siew Ka Wei is a well known corporate genius of all times! No wonder he could hold on as the Chairman of Ancom Bhd, a public listed company and MD of Nylex Bhd.
In the interim, Puan Latheefa Koya, the newly-minted DG of MACC should swing into action to investigate the failed tablet Project worth a total of RM340 million involving MCMC Funds.
Yours truly calls upon YB Gobind Singh Deo, the Minister of Communications and Multimedia and Datuk Dr Mazlee bin Malik, the Minister of Education, to uncover the irregularities that caused the tablet projects to fail and the wanton disbursement of funds.