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Attempts to Confine and Expand

Stick to appointment of judges, says Ahmad Fairuz’s lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR: The inquiry into the Datuk V.K. Lingam video clip should be confined only to the appointment of judges as stated in its full title, the Royal Commission heard.

Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, counsel for former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, said the objective of setting up this commission was revealed in its title, as follows:

“Commission of Inquiry of the Video Clip Recording of Images of a Person Purported to be an Advocate and Solicitor Speaking on the Telephone on Matters Regarding the Appointment of Judges Under The Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950.”

As such, he submitted that the terms of reference for the inquiry could have meaning only by reference to the specific objective of the establishment of the commission.

“Conversely, the reading of the terms of reference without the focal point of the purpose of the commission’s establishment leaves the terms open-ended without a sense of boundary,” he submitted in support of an objection by Lingam on questions relating to his New Zealand trip in December 1994.

On Monday, Lingam’s counsel R. Thayalan objected to the line of questioning by the Malaysian Bar, saying Lingam’s holiday to New Zealand with Tun Eusoff Chin, who was Chief Justice then, was not relevant to the inquiry.

Thayalan submitted that the trip did not fall within the commission’s terms of reference and that the commission was set up only to look into matters regarding a video clip on the appointment of judges.

Kamarul Hisham also argued that the answers given by Lingam and Eusoff on their closeness, which had been alleged in the video, had no probative value in the inquiry because it was not relevant to the appointment of judges.

However, commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar told him the question of probative value should only be addressed at the end of the inquiry after all evidence had been adduced.

In their written submissions, leading officers DPPs Datuk Nordin Hassan and Datuk Azmi Ariffin submitted that the issue of closeness and any other issues that were not related to the appointment of judges did not come within the terms of reference.

They said the commission was only confined to the inquiry on the video clip with regard to the appointment of judges.

“Looking at the transcript, it is certainly not the purpose of the establishment of this commission to ascertain or determine the truth or otherwise of all matters mentioned in the transcript,” they submitted.

Several examples highlighted by the prosecutors to emphasise this point included the suggestions that Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah wanted to hold office as Chief Justice until the age of 68, and that Tan Sri Robert Kuok was very brilliant and (the late) Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong was “already rich.”

– quoted from an article published in The Star on 23rd January 2008 (link)

All this talk about the confines of the RC was caused by the questioning regarding the NZ trip by Eusoff Chin and VK Lingam. But here’s the weird thing – who are the people bringing up this matter?

  • Ahmad Fairuz’s lawyer, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin
  • The DPP’s Datuk Nordin Hassan and Datuk Azmi Ariffin
  • VK Lingam’s lawyer, R.Thayalan (on Monday)

The NZ trip implies corruption on Eusoff Chin and VK Lingam’s part, so why is Ahmad Fairuz’s lawyer coming to their defense? Also, why the DPPs? Ahmad Fairuz stands to gain by defending them if he himself is corrupt or benefited from their corruption, but what is the DPP’s vested interest?

From the definition of the RC, i.e. Commission of Inquiry of the Video Clip Recording of Images of a Person Purported to be an Advocate and Solicitor Speaking on the Telephone on Matters Regarding the Appointment of Judges Under The Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950, it seems it has the leeway to investigate anything directly related to the appointment of judges based on the transcript of the video clip. So given that, I do agree that items like ‘case fixing’ is outside their terms of reference.

That part with prosecutors stating that looking into whether Robert Kuok was brilliant or Lim Goh Tong was rich..I would have burst out laughing if I was there, they picked the most non-sensical statements to support their own 🙂

Further reading: Robert Lazar’s objection, published 23rd January 2008 (NST) (The Star)

Counsel: Leave out links to law firm and former king

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah has objected to references made about his links with a law firm and a former Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

His counsel Khoo Guan Huat said Datuk V.K. Lingam should not use those facts about Dzaiddin and forcibly include it in the inquiry.

“My client finds it objectionable and mischievous for him to take an example that falls outside the spectrum of evidence to exclude evidence that may fall inside the spectrum,” he said.

Khoo added that Lingam’s lawyer R. Thayalan had alluded to Dzaiddin’s relationship with a Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the law firm Skrine.

“If for some reason during the course of this inquiry the behaviour of Tun Dzaiddin is relevant, then he can be examined by the counsel,” Khoo argued.

On Monday, Datuk V.K. Lingam’s counsel R. Thayalan argued that the commission of inquiry could not be open-ended in nature. Otherwise, the commission would be entitled to look into any misbehaviour of all persons whose names were mentioned in the video clip.

In objecting to questions relating to his client’s New Zealand trip in 1994, the lawyer gave several examples that the commission would have to consider in the event that it admitted evidence on the trip.

Among others, he said the question of whether Dzaiddin had misbehaved when he joined Skrine immediately after his retirement had to be considered by the commission.

– quoted from an article published in The Star on January 23rd 2008 (link)

Is mischievous a legal term? Thayalan almost sounds like he’s making a threat along the lines of, if you come after my client’s personal NZ trip with Eusoff Chin, you have to look into the misbehaviour of Tengku Adnan, Ahmad Fairuz, Tun Mahathir, Eusoff Chin and so on. But does the RC have any evidence to encourage them to investigate these people?

  1. VK Lingam was the man in the video clip
  2. Ahmad Fairuz was allegedly the man on the other end of the phone

VK Lingam’s personal involvement with Fairuz and the others needs to be investigated assuming there is other evidence (official decisions? documents?) to indicate that Lingam’s personal relationship with these person(s) offered him some control on their professional behaviour. The personal lives of these other men is not relevant if it can’t be directly tied to Lingam, correct? Honestly if the RC was that open ended it would never end, picking apart the lives of these men and highlighting every act of corruption they can find.

Maybe Dzaiddin’s involvement with a prior Agong and Skrine is linked to corrupt judicial appointment making on his part, I don’t know. But as no mention of this was made by VK Lingam in the video, it is not relevant because it is outside the RC’s power to investigate.

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Written by ak57

January 23, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Posted in Legal Matters, Lingam RC

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