Friday, November 07, 2008

Salleh Abas: Six Former Judges Paid RM10.5 Million Ex-gratia

Six Former Judges Paid RM10.5 Million Ex-gratia

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 (Bernama) -- The government paid out RM10.5 million in ex-gratia payment to six former judges who were either sacked or suspended during the 1988 judicial crisis, the Dewan Rakyat was told Thursday.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz said former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas received RM5 million while the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Tan Sri George Edward Seah Kim Seng were paid RM2 million each.

Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohd Salleh, the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdolcadeer and Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin were paid RM500,000 each, he said when winding up the debate for the Supplementary Supply Bill 2008 at committee stage.

Tun Salleh, Wan Suleiman and Seah were sacked while Wan Hamzah, Eusoffe and Azmi were suspended during the crisis.

He said the decision to pay the ex-gratia was made by the cabinet.

Apart from the ex-gratia payment, the six judges also received a monthly pension -- with Tun Salleh receiving RM5,102.16, Wan Suleiman (RM4,815), Eusoffe (RM4,815), Wan Hamzah (RM6508.59) and Azmi (RM5,916.90).

Meanwhile, Wee Choo Keong (PKR-Wangsa Maju) said he would support the ex-gratia payment if the judges were indeed sacked and therefore had lost their pension eligibilities.

"I cannot understand, however, why the minister said that the judges were not sacked but were asked to resign early... all media reports said that a tribunal had ordered them to be sacked," he said.

In reply, Nazri said there had never been an order from a tribunal to sack them.

"There was never a panel formed to sack; and also, it is not proper to quote newspaper reports in the House and take them as something legitimate," he said.

At a news conference later, Nazri reiterated that the judges had been asked to resign.

"If they were sacked, they would not be entitled to receive pensions. They were asked to resign... that is why they receive the pensions," he said.

Nazri also said that the decision to reveal the amount of ex-gratia payment was made because of numerous requests, including from members of parliament, for the government to do so.

"We wished they had not pursued the matter so that we can keep our promise to the judges that we would not reveal the amount... but public interest overrides everything else," he said.

The Dewan Rakyat sitting continues on Monday.