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The Powerless Panel

Probe panel: Come forward for the sake of M’sia 

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 3, 2007)

The panel investigating the authenticity of a video clip showing a senior lawyer purportedly discussing the appointment of top judges over the telephone today asked the person who recorded it to come forward “for the sake of Malaysia”.

“Somebody out there (has) the original video. Does he have the responsibility (to come forward)? There may have been others who were there (during the incident). Have they got the responsibility?

“If you don’t come, don’t complain, because at the end of the day, our report is based on the material made available to us,” said panel member Datuk Mahadev Shankar.


Mahadev said the panel had no legal powers or legal immunity as it was not a Commission of Inquiry but its only authority were the terms of reference – compile a report and send it to the appointing body.

“The only immunity we have is our conscience, our good faith and the honesty of our purpose,” he said.

On protection for voluntary witnesses, Mahadev said: “The truth is the best protection. People who have got that knowledge will have to be bold enough to come (forward) if not for anything, for the sake of Malaysia.”

– quoted from an article published in The Sun on 3rd October 2007 (link)

Check out this video too:

The impression I got when the panel was formed was that the panel were looking at the technical aspect of the video and looking to confirm two things :

  1. Is the person in the video really VK Lingam?
  2. Was he really talking to Tun Ahmad Fairuz?

What has that got to do with the person who originally recorded the video? Do they need a formal written statement from him saying, “Yes I took this recording at Address ABC on day X of month Y of year Z and the person depicted in the video is VK Lingam” for legal reasons? Maybe but that would only seem relevant if there was any prosecution being filed.

Why are these three men appointed to the panel anyway? It is unlikely that any of them are technical experts, or directly commands a team of experts. They already stated they have no legal power. So what they have left to offer is influence and I expect some legal expertise.

Well at least Datuk Mahadev Shankar pointed out an interesting essay, though he did not reference the author who popularised the term “Power of the Powerless”, Vaclav Havel. Read some excerpts from the essay here (link). Similar video of the press interview with Datuk Mahadev is here.

No legal power or immunity, but yes please do come forward and expose yourself. Remember you are totally liable for anything you say and yes, we will we be recording it.

The truth is the best protection? Sure, if honest reliable people were around to offer protection. So what’s next? Will the panel eventually dismiss the authenticity of the video by saying that it has passed thru too many hands and undergone too many technical modifications (compression, resizing)? After that they can tell the press, “Oh, if only the person who recorded the video loved his or her country enough to come forward. Then we would have the original video to work with”.

What a comedy. A sad, sad comedy.


Written by ak57

October 4, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Local News

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