Straits Times (Used by permission)
KUALA LUMPUR: Former deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan had direct influence in the appointment and promotion of judges.
This was the explosive observation made in the report by the Royal Commission of
Inquiry into the Lingam video clip.
The commission also doubted the evidence given by the two in the inquiry as they had made bare denials to penetrating questions posed by lawyers who appeared for interested parties.
The findings of the commission were in direct contrast to Adnan's testimony: "I had nothing to do with the appointment of judges."
Tan had also testified that he had no links to the judicial appointments.
The NST learned the report also noted that lawyer Datuk V.K.
Lingam had mentioned Adnan's name 11 times in the 14–minute clip and that the
lawyer was speaking to former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
The commission had recommended that certain individuals who gave evidence in the inquiry be investigated under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code.
The report also noted that there was basis for a probe by investigation agencies on the alleged close links between Lingam and another former chief justice, Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin, who held the position from 1994 to 2000.
Lingam's brother Thirunama Karasu had lodged a report in 1998 with the Anti–Corruption Agency, which incriminated Eusoff but the matter was closed.
At the inquiry, the Bar Council had produced photographs, flight tickets and itinerary as evidence to show that Eusoff, Lingam and their families had gone for a holiday together to New Zealand in late 1994.
The commission also recommended that Lingam be investigated for misconduct under the Legal Profession Act.
The commission had also made observations in response to the evidence given by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and retired chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.
It noted Dr Mahathir had a "narrow interpretation" to the meaning of the word "consultation" in the appointment and promotion of judges.
This was in response to Dr Mahathir having not accepted Dzaiddin's advice to appoint the late Tan Sri Malek Ahmad as chief judge of Malaya in August 2001.
That position instead, went to Fairuz who was then junior to Malek. Malek passed away on May 31, last year.
In a recent newspaper report, Dr Mahathir was quoted as having read an extract of the Royal Commission report and had said there seemed to be every attempt to implicate him although there was no direct connection to him. The report, he claimed, made him seem that he was biased.
The commission also recommended that the government review the composition of members in the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to prevent abuse by the chief justice who has a hand in recommending judges to sit in the commission.
The commission head is the chairman of the Public Services Commission. The attorney–general, who is the head of the legal department, is a member of the commission while the others members are all judges.
The Royal Commission recommended that the chief judge of Malaya and chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak be members of the body as they are directly responsible for the appointments, transfer and promotion of lower court judges and registrars.
This recommendation was made as there have been instances of a former chief justice who practised favouritism.
The three other recommendations by the Royal Commission are the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission for superior court judges, establishing a Judicial Complaints Tribunal and amending Article 121 of the Federal Constitution to remove the perception that the executive had control over the judiciary.
The report was submitted to the Yang di–Pertuan Agong last Friday and copies were extended to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
The report is expected to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting today, which will also decide if it should be made public.
Meanwhile, a check on the official website of the Attorney–General's Chambers revealed that the Anti–Corruption Agency's investigation papers on lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam have been returned to the agency with further instructions.
The ACA submitted its papers on May 9 but received them back later the same day.
As of yesterday evening, Lingam's case was number 114 under "List of Investigation Papers" or Senarai Kertas Siasatan Kes.
Under the column headed kertas masuk (papers opened), investigation papers against one "Dato' Kanalingam a/l Veluppillai" were submitted to the ACA on May 9, the same date on which the commission had submitted its report to the Yang di–Pertuan Agong.