By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court dismissed Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s application to strike out two graft charges against him linked to the Jana Wibawa programme.

Criminal court judge Rozina Ayob this afternoon denied the notice of motion that the two charges against the former Bersatu information chief were allegedly defective.

Wan Saiful’s legal team filed the striking-out application on May 29, seeking a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).

Unlike a full acquittal, a DNAA gives the prosecution the option of recharging the accused for the same offence at a future date if they choose to do so.

Rozina today made the ruling after hearing additional oral submissions from defence counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad as well as Deputy Public Prosecutor Rasyidah Murni Azmi.

“The defence’s application is denied. We will proceed with full trial,” the criminal court judge ruled as Wan Saiful looked on from the dock.

Defence counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad

The judge then set eight days next year for a full trial of the case: March 25-27, April 29-30, and May 20-22, 2024.

The prosecution is expected to call 27 witnesses to testify against Wan Saiful.

The defence team contended that the charges were vague and prevented them from preparing an alibi defence in relation to the two charges.

However, the prosecution countered that the charges are framed adequately as it sufficiently gives notice to the accused on the nature of the offences he was charged with.

Wan Saiful’s charges

On Feb 21, Wan Saiful claimed trial to two charges — first, for soliciting a bribe of an unspecified amount and second, for receiving a bribe of RM6.96 million between July 8 and Sept 30, 2022.

The Tasek Gelugor MP was accused of soliciting a bribe from one Lian Tan Chuan.

The alleged bribe was purportedly to help Nepturis Sdn Bhd secure the “Central Spine Road: Sertik Ke Persimpangan Lebuhraya Pantai Timur” project from the federal government through pre-qualification.

The project was supposed to be valued at RM232 million.

The second charge accused Wan Saiful of receiving, through his company WSA Advisory Group Sdn Bhd, the RM6.96 million from Nepturis as an inducement to help the latter secure a letter of award for the same project.

He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine not less than five times the value of the inducement.

The criminal court set bail at RM400,000 and ordered Wan Saiful’s passport to be confiscated, pending disposal of the case.

Jana Wibawa, an acronym for “Program Jana Ekonomi Pemerkasaan Kontraktor Bumiputera Berwibawa”, was a COVID-19 stimulus programme for bumiputera contractors.

The Muhyiddin Yassin administration introduced it in November 2020.

Parliament was told last week that the current administration had frozen Jana Wibawa projects worth RM5.7 billion, pending investigations.