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Lingam-Eusoff Working Closely

NZ trip shortly after mega win

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk V.K. Lingam and former chief justice Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin went for their New Zealand holiday shortly after the lawyer’s client Tan Sri Vincent Tan won RM10mil in damages in a libel case.

Testifying on Day 8 of the inquiry, Lingam said the defendants appealed right up to the Federal Court but lost their case.

He said he acted as Tan’s lawyer in the appeal up to that stage while Eusoff chaired the panel, which threw out the appeal. Neither he nor Eusoff declared that they had gone on holiday together.

Lingam said this in response to questions by Robert Lazar, counsel for the Malaysian Bar.

Lazar: When the appeal was heard, did Eusoff inform the parties that he and you had been on a holiday together?

Lingam: To my knowledge, he did not.

Lazar: Did you inform the counsel for the appellants that you had been on a holiday with Eusoff?

Lingam: No I did not.

Lazar: I now move on to another case even more controversial. In 1995, you appeared for two parties in the High Court – Insas Bhd and Megapolitan Nominees Sdn Bhd?

Lingam: Yes. I was instructed by Michael Lim, a senior partner of Shearn Delamore (Lazar is a partner in the same firm) to appear in this case. He asked me to act for them as he was a director of Insas.

Lazar: And this case involved Ayer Molek Rubber Company Bhd?

Lingam: Yes, shares of Ayer Molek Rubber Company.

Lazar: This was another case that was very high profile?

Lingam: Yes, it became high profile.

This line of questioning then prompted Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor to ask Lazar where he was getting to.

Lazar explained that he wanted to show that soon after the New Zealand holiday in 1994, Lingam had appeared before Eusoff in court.

Lazar added that he also wanted to show that some people “had acted out of the norm” in the Ayer Molek shares matter.

“We are saying there are features in this case serious enough to lend support to ascertain Lingam’s assertion that when Tun Eusoff was in power, I can straight get,” Lazar said, before Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar interjected:

“So, we have come to the pom, pom, pom, pom part.”

Earlier, Lingam admitted that he had prior to the New Zealand holiday, appeared before Eusoff who was a judge in the High Court.

Lazar: And how often did you appear before Tun Eusoff in the High Court?

Lingam: I have appeared mostly in the Cooperative Central Bank (CCB) case for the employees who are retrenched and a case involving those dismissed by the Income Tax department.

Lazar: Roughly how many appearances?

Lingam: I can’t recall. You are talking about 14 years ago. To the best of my recollection, maybe there was a worker’s case involving certiorari.

Lazar: Any other?

Lingam: None whatsoever.

Lazar: But when you went for this trip, Tun Eusoff was already the Chief Justice?

Lingam: I think so.

Lazar: On May 21, 1994, he was appointed Chief Justice. Your holiday was in December 1994. Just prior to this holiday – a well deserved break no doubt – you did a matter that had a very high profile, a libel suit involving Tan Sri Vincent Tan?

Lingam: That’s correct.

Lazar: That was a suit filed in 1994?

Lingam: That is correct.

Lazar: This is the suit that Vincent Tan sued among others, the late MGG Pillai?

Lingam: That is correct.

Lazar: This was a case that started in 1994 and ended in 1994. Judgment was entered on Oct 22, 1994.

Lingam: That’s right.

Lazar: That is after a full trial, and not a summary trial?

Lingam: That’s right.

Lazar: Damages of RM10mil was awarded against Pillai?

Lingam: Total damages against all defendants was RM10mil. Against Pillai, if I recollect clearly, was only RM2mil.

Lazar: The case attracted a large amount of publicity in the local newspapers?

Lingam: Yes.

Lazar: It was a much talked-about case?

Lingam: It attracted publicity but I don’t know about much talked-about.

Lazar: It attracted publicity because it was a ground-breaking case?

Lingam: Yes, that is one view you could look at.

Lazar: Would you say that that case started the trend of mega damages?

Lingam: Possible.

Later in the afternoon, Ranjit Singh, another lawyer representing the Bar, tendered eight photographs taken of Lingam, Eusoff and their families during their New Zealand holiday in December 1994.

When asked if he remembered where the photos were taken, Lingam said he could not remember as they were taken over 13 years ago.

“It must be New Zealand but I don’t know which part,” he said.

When Ranjit Singh asked if he could confirm that several photos of the holiday taken on a boat was at Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown, New Zealand, Lingam replied: “I don’t recollect this lake. It looks like Papua New Guinea.”

To this, Ranjit Singh responded: Are you suggesting that you’ve also gone to Papua New Guinea with Tun Eusoff?

Lingam shook his head.

He later confirmed that both his and Eusoff’s families were the only people on the boat apart from the crew.

He also told the commission that the then Chief Justice had rented the entire boat to himself.

Asked how he and his family ended up on the same boat, Lingam said: “I spoke to him and asked if we could go along with him and he said okay.”

At one point, Lingam demanded that the negatives of the photographs be tendered to court to clear doubts about them being doctored or tampered with.

To this, Ranjit Singh replied that the negatives were with another lawyer, Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who had also provided the Bar with ticket stubs from the New Zealand trip.

Among these ticket stubs, which were tendered to court, were two bearing the names of Lingam’s wife and Eusoff’s daughter stapled together.

Asked about this, Lingam replied that anyone could have stapled them together.

When it was pointed out that it came with a cover bearing both names, Lingam replied: “I’ve never seen this before. You have to call the maker of this.”

– quoted from an article published in The Star on 25th January 2008 (link)

I’m surprised that NST did not mention this at all, given that they were pro-exposing Lingam since September whereas Star revealed precious little until the RC was formed. Kudos to Robert Lazar for trying to get ‘case fixing’ heard in the RC despite being told before it was not in their scope.

NZ Trip related facts

  1. Lingam had gone on the NZ trip shortly after winning a 1994 libel case for Vincent Tan
  2. The case was from May 21 1994 – Oct 22 1994
  3. Damages of RM10 million was awarded against the defendants, 2 million of which was against MGG Pillai
  4. Eusoff Chin chaired the panel that threw out the defendants’ appeal
  5. Neither Eusoff or Lingam informed involved parties of the case about the NZ trip
  6. Lingam could not remember in which parts of NZ the additional 8 photographs shown were taken
  7. Eusoff had rented the boat that their families took at Lake Wakatipu (near Queenstown)
  8. Lingam had asked Eusoff whether it would be ok to go along on the boat trip

Other facts

  1. Lingam had appeared before Eusoff during his tenure as a High Court judge
  2. In 1995 Lingam appeared for Insas Bhd and Megapolitan Nominees Sdn Bhd in High Court
  3. Michael Lim, director of Insas and senior partner of Shearn Delamore (of which Lazar is a partner) instructed Lingam to appear for those two companies
  4. This high profile case involved shares of Ayer Molek Rubber Company Bhd

Noteworthy evidence presented

  1. Eight photographs take of Lingam, Eusoff and their families during the NZ trip
  2. Two ticket stubs bearing Eusoff’s daughter’s name and Lingam’s wife’s name stapled together, along with a cover with both their names

Finally I hear evidence of professional misconduct being presented before the RC 🙂 Given the cheque presented previously, the NZ trip might even have been a reward? The ticket stubs help prove the trip was planned together and testimony from Lingam’s or Eusoff’s secretary should prove the planning beyond doubt.

Five months for a case with a damages award of RM10 million is remarkably short. I hope to hear more evidence like this, but given Haidar and Mahadev’s putting a stop to that line of questioning maybe I won’t be so lucky.

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Written by ak57

January 25, 2008 at 11:05 pm

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