Former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa told the High Court here today that he was referring to the talking points given by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) when chairing the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Audit Report coordination meeting, which was held Feb 24, 2016, on the instruction of then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The fourth prosecution witness was responding to the question by 1MDB former Chief Executive Officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy's lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan on how he brought up the specific issues pertaining the audit report in the meeting, even though he mentioned earlier that he only knew the issues in general, which related to the two conflicting financial statements in the audit report.

Sivananthan: We heard the audio recording for few times and we also got the recording transcript and, from the transcript, it was clear you did bring up the issues, how did you know what were the issues to be discussed?

Ali: There were talking points prepared for me by my private secretary and he said it was given by the PMO. It was just a written note to ask a question on what are the issues to be raised (during the meeting).

Sivananthan: Assuming Tan Sri Muhammad Shukry Salleh (Najib's former principal private secretary) represented PMO in the meeting, was it (talking points) given to you by him?

Ali: It was put on my table by my private secretary, I am not sure whether the source was Tan Sri Muhammad Shukry or 1MDB, I was told by my private secretary it was from the PMO.

Sivananthan: Did the talking points refer specifically to any page or paragraph in the audit report.

Ali: Yes, it mentioned the pages and paragraphs.

Ali, 64, who was supposed to be cross-examined by Najib's lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on the trial of the former prime minister and Arul Kanda over the alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report, was instead questioned by Sivananthan as Muhammad Shafee was unwell and could not be present.

The witness, who held his post until August 2018 and who is now a retiree, was also queried by Sivananthan on why Muhammad Shukry had a say about the two conflicting financial statements during the 1MDB Audit Report coordination meeting when he has nothing to do with the 1MDB.

Ali said that he did not stop Muhammad Shukry from making comments during the meeting because “he was from the PMO”.

The witness also agreed to Sivananthan's suggestion that at the meeting on Feb 24, 2016, which was chaired by him, Arul Kanda was only defending the interest of 1MDB as the final decision to amends the 1MDB audit report was left to the former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

Ali then agreed with the lawyer that it was within Ambrin's powers to say that he would not be removing information from the 1MDB audit report and that it was his final decision.

Ali also agreed that there was no issue of anyone forcing or pressuring anyone to do anything throughout the meeting.

To another question, Ali said he had never threatened Ambrin to follow whatever he said.

Najib, 67, was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report which was already ‘finalised’ by Auditor-General before the report was ‘finalised again’ and presented before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda, 44, was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB.

They were charged under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues this Wednesday.