(Used by permission)
by R. Surenthira Kumar and Llew–Ann Phang
• Commission rejects 3rd video clip
• ACA officer put in tight spot
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30, 2008): The Royal Commission of Inquiry's plan to wind up its proceedings today was scuttled when the Malaysian Bar offered to produce lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah – the source of the photographs of former chief justice Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin and Datuk V.K. Lingam holidaying together in New Zealand – as a potential witness.
Due to this development, the commission, which only convened after lunch today,
adjourned to Monday to hear V.K. Thirunama Karasu, Datuk V.K Lingam's brother,
as the final witness.
Bar representative Christopher Leong told the commission they have the negatives for the New Zealand trip photographs since Lingam had objected to the tendering of the photographs as evidences when he appeared as witness.
Lingam had stated that unless the original copies of the photographs were produced for verification, he would not be able to verify them.
However, commission member Datuk Mahadev Shankar said Lingam had taken a very technical objection to the photographs.
"Let us decide on it," said Mahadev.
He questioned the necessity to produce Muhammad Shafee as a witness at this stage.
Leong said Muhammad Shafee had information on the photographs and he could shed more light on the matter.
Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor said since this inquiry is not a trial, it was not necessary to tender the negatives.
"We don't need the negatives to be produced."
Mahadev said the commission had to accord the same treatment to everyone in the selection of potential witnesses.
"We do not want a free–for–all. We have to know in advance what Mohd Shafee is going to say," said Mahadev.
Mohd Shafee was present during this time, but the Commission did not give him an opportunity to speak.
Haidar then told Leong to inform Mohd Shafee to submit a written statement so the commission could decide whether the lawyer should be called.
By then, Thirunama Karasu had taken his seat in the witness box. It was about 5pm then.
Haidar said he has "limited energy" and after hearing from the lawyers on their availability, adjourned the inquiry to Monday (Feb 4), subject to confirmation.
Commission rejects 3rd video clip
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30, 2008): The Royal Commission of Inquiry on the controversial video clip today ruled that it was not accepting the third video clip recently released by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as it could not "accept everything that was being thrown at us".
Chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor and commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar both said that as such, they would not accept the transcript of the third video clip earlier tendered by lawyer William Leong who is acting for Datuk V.K Lingam's younger brother V. Rajendram and for two other unnamed witnesses.
"This is not within our mandate. We are not obliged to consider materials which are not relevant to the inquiry," Mahadev said, on the 12th day of the commission's proceedings.
Former chief justice Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin’s counsel Datuk Hazman Ahmad had asked for the transcript of the third video clip to be tendered as evidence as it had referred to the New Zealand trip which the Commission had allowed questions on to establish closeness between Lingam and Mohamed Eusoff.
The Commission had also expressed dissatisfaction on two online articles – one by Aliran and the other Anwar’s press statement sourced from Malaysiakini which implied that it was being "manipulated by an unseen hand".
The articles referred to Monday (Jan 28)’s proceedings when the Commission ruled it did not see the necessity for Anwar, his aide Sim Tze Tzin and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice–president Sivarasa Rasiah at this point in proceedings.
Mahadev, who read the ruling, said the Commission had found that the evidence that Anwar, Sim and Sivarasa intended to adduce – which ran to four to five pages long – was "too skimpy" for a proper ruling on whether they should be allowed to testify.
He said the Commission should be furnished with more detailed evidence and advised counsels for Aliran and Anwar to speak to their clients and make amends on the matter.
Anwar, Sim and Sivarasa’s lawyer M. Puravelan argued that he provided a synopsis of their evidence and the adjective used had implied incompetence on his part.
Mahadev said the synopsis were inadequate for a ruling and added: "The only hands I have are the ones God gave me and it is with these and other such talents given by the Divine, that we are supposed to do our work."
Puravelan also told the commissioners that it was beyond the control of Anwar when he had only received the video clip – the third one – over the weekend, and added that his client was more than willing to testify on the matter.
The video–clip that the commission focussed its investigation on was delivered by Anwar in two parts – the first on Sept 19 and the second on Nov 8, after the government had announced the setting up of the commission. The third clip released on Jan 28 showed a senior lawyer saying he had given an "expensive gift" to a former top judge.
ACA officer put in tight spot
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30, 2008): Anti–Corruption Agency senior investigation officer Chuah Lay Choo was put in a tight spot on the 12th day of the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s proceedings when lawyers cross–examined her on how thorough her investigation was.
Among others, Chuah admitted on questioning that she had not checked the telephone numbers for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Tan Sri Vincent Tan for the period of 2001 and 2002.
She said she had only concentrated on whether there was corruption, misuse of position or use of influence in the appointment of Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as the Court of Appeal president and later chief justice, and failed to look into other aspects of the video clip content, and she had not used a lie–detector test when taking evidence from Datuk V.K. Lingam.
On being grilled by Bar Council representative Ranjit Singh, Chuah admitted she now thought it was inappropriate for a lawyer to be brokering positions for judges and that it was relevant to her investigation.
"But I interviewed the witness directly whether he had the conversation or not," she said.
She also admitted she had not looked into the numbers of those close to Ahmad Fairuz, namely his family members, in the course of investigation.
"In your (experience in investigations) they may not admit to what they do. I would assume you would have gone one step further and looked at all the evidence to verify if it is true or not. Did you do that?" asked Ranjit.
Chuah replied in the negative, and disagreed to a suggestion that neither she nor the ACA conducted complete a investigation to verify the truth of the content of the video clip.
She also agreed that in 2001, there was no registration process for prepaid number users and that the list she tendered as evidence to the Commission yesterday had not included any of Lingam’s handphone numbers.
Therefore, she admitted, that she could not confirm conclusively if Lingam called Tun Ahmad Fairuz or vice–versa.
Chuah also admitted she did not verify a Singapore number listed in Lingam’s land line in his house which appeared twice for a duration of 25 minutes and 26 seconds at 10.15pm; and 28 minutes, 16 seconds at 9.46pm on Dec 20, 2001.
She agreed with Ranjit that she now thought it was pertinent and relevant for investigation but she had not done so at that time.
She also admitted that she had not verified if Ahmad Fairuz was in Singapore at the time the telephone call was made.
Earlier, questioned by Loh Mui Fah’s lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu, Chuah said Lingam had identified Loh as the person in the clip.
"When Lingam identified the person as Loh, did he identify himself as the one in the video clip?" asked Americk.
"He only said it looked like him and sounded like him," she said.
Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar then quipped in his trademark wit: "Lingam identified Loh Mui Fah but he could not identify himself."
Prompted by a question by Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, Chuah said she traced Loh in Malacca after Lingam volunteered his particulars.
Haidar and lawyer Wee Choo Keong also had the courtroom in laughter when Haidar’s handphone rang when Wee was questioning Chuah.
Haidar apologised twice for the disruption, and laughed good–naturedly along with the courtroom when Wee said: "Luckily it was not mine."
During questioning by another Bar representative Christopher Leong, Chuah said she had not looked into investigations done by her agency in 1998 which was relevant to the designated evidence submitted by Thirunama Karasu.
"I was aware there was an investigation but I was not aware of the details," she said.
She said she did not investigate or question the parties or witnesses mentioned in Thirunama’s statement on matters like Lingam visiting Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin’s house late at night with some files, or the allegation that Lingam bought Mohamed Eusoff a house.
"My investigations were only on the appointment of Tun Ahmad Fairuz," she added.