By Aathi Shankar
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has saved RM20 billion annually for TNB by getting rid of the “sweetheart deals” for the independent power producers (IPPs), the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard today, Monday, October 7, 2019.
Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testified that Najib resolved the long-standing lopsided TNB-IPP contract issue by using 1MDB’s subsidiary to buy over several IPPs.
1MDB Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd bought over IPPs like Tanjung Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd and Mastika Legenda Sdn Bhd to provide more competitive IPP tender deals for TNB.
Through the competitive TNB-IPP deals, Najib saved billions in people’s money as energy cost and price became cheaper for TNB, while the federal government no longer needed to provide energy subsidy.
Testifying on the 17th day of the Najib-1MDB trial, Shahrol revealed before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that “Najib had saved RM20 billion of people’s money per year.”
Between 2008 and 2018, Najib has saved nearly RM200 billion of public money by scrapping the IPP “sweetheart deals”, which was tainted with cronyism and nepotism.
The IPP sweetheart deals were baby of then country’s 4th Prime Minister (PM4) Tun Mahathir Mohamad.
Former TNB executive chairman the late Tan Sri Ani Arope had openly opposed the creation of IPPs in the first place and stood his ground in 1995 rather than signing off on generous power purchase agreements (PPAs) with IPPs.
Instead, he stirred the market by quitting rather than signing the lopsided agreements, which were allegedly forced down his throat by Mahathir.
IPPs came into the picture following a near nation-wide blackout in 1992.
But, Ani Arope revealed in his book published by the Fulbright Alumni Association of Malaysia that the landmark blackout was “deliberately engineered” in 1992 to paint a false bleak picture on TNB capability and capacity to supply enough power across the country.
The federal government then forced TNB to surrender its plots of land in Paka (Terengganu) and Pasir Gudang (Johor) to a third party for power plants.
This started the IPP era of YTL Power Generation Sdn Bhd, then followed by a slew of other IPPs – Powertek Bhd, Genting Sanyan Power Sdn Bhd, Segeri Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd, Malakoff Bhd, Tanjung plc, EPE Power Sabah Energy Corp, Alpha Intercount’l Bhd, Sutera Bhd, Cergas Unggul Sdn Bhd and Ekran Corp.
Mahathir was the man behind the rise of IPPs.
Najib, 66, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion in the 1MDB fund and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The Pekan MP allegedly perpetrated the offence at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad Branch, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014 while for all charges of money laundering was between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013, at the same place.
One can now envisage why Mahathir attacked Najib over 1MDB after the 13th General Election in 2013.