Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cabinet wants Dr M and five others investigated

Cabinet wants Dr M and five others investigated


PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet has agreed that investigations be conducted into all allegations against former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and five others identified in the Royal Commission of Inquiry report on the V.K. Lingam video clip.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim said the five others were lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and former Chief Justices Tun Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said he would go through the report before announcing whether he would be ordering a probe.

“I will study the recommendations in the report very carefully, after which I will issue a statement at the appropriate time.

“Please give us time to do our job properly,” he said.

Zaid said the six would be investigated for offences under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code, which included obstruction of justice.

“All the recommendations in the report are advisory in nature so we have to have another investigation,” he said, adding that the Government had taken note of the recommendations for judicial reform and the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Commission.

“The Government is in the process of finalising the relevant laws to set up this commission and it will be made known soon,” he said, adding that the Government also proposed to include the recognition of “judicial power” as proposed by the Commission.

He said these moves were vital to help restore the people’s confidence in the judiciary.

The Cabinet, he said, had urged the public, including the media, to allow uninterrupted investigations without undue pressure and prejudice against any individual identified in the report.

“It must be reiterated that in our legal system, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” he told reporters at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department here yesterday.

The Royal Commission was formed to verify the authenticity of the video clip purportedly showing prominent lawyer Lingam on the phone brokering judicial appointments with a senior judge. Twenty-one witnesses testified at the 17-day inquiry which began on Jan 14.

Zaid also said that the Cabinet had agreed for the contents of the report to be released and sold to the public.

The report, which comes in four volumes comprising 2,889 pages, will cost RM541.60; of which the main report costs RM161.40 while the notes of proceedings, statutory declaration and lists of exhibits are priced at RM123.30, RM120 and RM136.90 respectively.

The public can buy the report at the Legal Affairs Division from Tuesday afternoon.

In its report, the commission said that the video clip, made by businessman Loh Gwo Burne, was indeed recorded at Lingam's house in December 2001.

It said it had no hesitation in finding that the clip to be genuine, real, reliable and trustworthy and its contents true in substance and material particulars.

In examining Lingam and Fairuz's testimonies, which they described as bare denials, against the direct evidence elicited from the phone conversation as well as the evidence of Gwo Burne and his businessman father Loh Mui Fah, the commission found that it was none other than Fairuz that Lingam was speaking to on the telephone.

The panel also said the evidence showed that Lingam was not intoxicated during the conversations, as he had suggested.

It added that the evidence also militates against Lingam's other suggestion that he could have been “bullshitting” or bragging.

The commission said that, in the final analysis, there was conceivably an insidious movement by Lingam with the covert assistance of his close friends Tan and Tengku Adnan to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges, in particular that of Fairuz as Chief judge of Malaya and later Court of Appeal president.

In the process, the panel added that Dr Mahathir was also entangled.

While noting that the group's ultimate aim could not be ascertained, given the limitation of the terms of reference, the commission said it was reasonable to suggest that it could not be anything but self-serving.

The panel said the collective and cumulative actions of the main characters concerned had the effect of seriously undermining the independence and integrity of the judiciary as a whole... the star online