Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Mahathir Testifies to the RC

Tun Mahathir took the witness stand yesterday and after reading both the Star and NST’s transcript of the questioning I see he gave decent answers and see no reason to criticise him. Prior to this I read bloggers making fun of him for not remembering a few events or reasoning behind decisions he had made SIX years ago and I thought gosh, did Tun Mahathir behave in a hilariously incompetent manner like Alberto Gonzalez (former Attorney General of USA)? Turns out he did not, and shame on those people out there for making fun of him.

Yes there are many “I don’t remember” and “I’m uncertain” statements but if you read the transcripts in their entirety to get the flow and context, it looks quite alright in my opinion. As a general guideline if you are put on the stand:

  1. Confirm what can be proven
  2. Say what you like if its truthfulness can’t be proven (e.g. dealings that have no paper trail or documentation)
  3. “Don’t recall” if you can’t confirm whether your statement is true, even if you ‘think’ the statement is true – if you are not sure its best to ‘not remember’
  4. Be a bit ambiguous when the wording of the question can be used against you (e.g. the use of the phrase, “Were you influenced by anyone …”; influence can be misinterpreted as controlled)

Remember as former PM he is expected to know a LOT of things, even matters that he himself doesn’t personally know! Though in our country people at the top do have a despotic attitude about them so he could just blather on and still not get in trouble anyway 😉

NST transcript
Star transcript (more descriptive, but you should read both)

My summary based on Tun Mahathir’s statements follows.

List of denials (i.e. Tun Mahathir did not …)

  1. Receive a phone call from Vincent Tan in relation to Ahmad Fairuz’s appointment as chief judge of Malaya
  2. Telephone (then deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor every time Dzaiddin sent a letter to you and ask Tengku Adnan to discuss it with Vincent Tan
  3. Have meetings between him and Tun Ahmad Fairuz arranged by Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor on the appointment of judges
  4. Meet V.K. Lingam, Tengku Adnan and Vincent Tan to discuss the recommendation to appoint (the late) Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad as chief judge of Malaya
  5. Reject Malek Ahmad from being appointed chief judge of Malaya because he was “anti-PM”
  6. Upon receiving a letter from Dzaiddin, call Tengku Adnan and tell him to discuss it with Vincent Tan (it is presumed this is not the letter regarding Malek Ahmad)

List of “I don’t remembers” (i.e. Tun Mahathir did not remember …)

  1. Reasons were for rejecting Chew and Zainuddin from being High Court judges
  2. Receiving any memorandum from V.K. Lingam, but might have received a letter from Eusoff Chin
  3. If the chief judge of Malaya’s appointment (Fairuz) was the reason for rejecting Chew and Zainuddin
  4. Phoning Ahmad Fairuz and (businessman) Tan Sri Vincent Tan in respect of the six Court of Appeal judges which Dzaiddin recommended
  5. That before Ahmad Fairuz was recommended as chief judge of Malaya, Dzaiddin had nominated Malek Ahmad (though he does remember some talk of that possibility)
  6. When Dzaiddin recommended Malek Ahmad, and whether a rejection was made

Unable to confirm or deny, or ambiguously answered

  1. Whether Tengku Adnan as a deputy minister in charge of law have access to the documents containing information mentioned by Lingam in the video
  2. Whether he was influenced by anyone in making his decisions
  3. Whether Vincent Tan advised him on any decision

Factual statements

  1. Mahathir knows Tan Sri Vincent Tan very well
  2. Mahathir only knew VK Lingam recently after engaging him in a case where Anwar Ibrahim sued Mahathir for defamation
  3. VK Lingam has been to Mahathir’s home once or twice after his engagement as Mahathir’s lawyer
  4. Mahathir agrees that the person in the video clip knew about Official Secrets, and that he does not know how that came to be
  5. Mahathir listens to the advice of numerous people (civil servants, senior police personnel, the ACA, etc.) in making his decisions, but his decisions are his own

Oddities
Despite documentation that Dzaiddin had recommended Malek Ahmad, Tun Mahathir still would not confirm having received the recommendation or rejecting it following that. As the legal team did not present an official letter rejecting the recommendation its safe to assume that Mahathir was free to say what he liked as there was no paper trail to disprove him. If you look at the transcript carefully Mahathir was asked many times about Malek Ahmad’s recommendation by Dzaiddin, and not once did Mahathir acknowledge receiving or rejecting it. Best illustration of that :

Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar: Were your reasons for rejecting Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad discussed with Dzaiddin? He suggested it, you rejected it. Did you discuss it with him?

Dr Mahathir: I normally don’t explain to anybody. This is why I made the decision. This is why. I listen to a lot of people and I make my own decision. I don’t explain to anybody.

Sidetrack by Anwar’s Lawyer
M.Puravelan wanted to ask Mahathir about a meeting between him and former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid in August 1999 at the Palace of the Golden Horses, claiming this meeting led to another Tengku Adnan, Vincent Tan and VK Lingam. His reasoning was this involved persons mentioned in the video clip and events that affected the administration of justice. Mahathir did not remember meeting Murad.

Final comments
Aren’t we all influenced by outside forces in life? I did not care much for the repeated use of the term ‘influence’ during questioning, its so open to misinterpretation.

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Written by ak57

January 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm

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