Straits Times (Used by permission)
Tan Sri Lamin Yunus, retired Court of Appeal president (1994–2001): 'I'm sorry. I cannot remember because it has been a long time. (Lamin was quoted by Datuk Ian Chin as advocating at a camp to indoctrinate judges to hold the view that the government's interest was above all else.)'
A serving judge: 'Tun Eusoff Chin (then chief justice) had invited (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) to personally address judges at the 1997 Judges' Conference at a hotel in Shah Alam. The former PM did say that the government would not introduce a law to cap damages awarded to a party in a defamation suit but left it to judges to control it. He did also raise (Datuk) Ian Chin's election petition judgment, which the former PM said was "against us". However, we did not speak up because the majority of senior judges felt that Chin's ruling on that case was legally flawed. There were about 70 judges at the meeting but I think the majority of us, including Chin, were not influenced by what Dr Mahathir said. I felt Chin took the opportunity to speak from the Bench because he thought Dr Mahathir was responsible for blocking his promotion.'
Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, retired chief justice (2000–2003): 'I do not recall what was said at the 1997 judges' conference. But I told the Malaysian Bar annual dinner in March 2001 that damages in defamation suits were "dizzling, troubling and a blot on the legal landscape", and that it was time for the judiciary to check the size of defamation awards. I also recall that former High Court judge Datuk Muhammad Kamil Awang said he was aked to decide in favour of a Barisan Nasional candidate with regard to an election petition in Kota Kinabalu.'
Datuk Shaik Daud Mohd Ismail, former Court of Appeal judge: 'It is a real shock. I do remember the (then) prime minister conveying the message about higher damages in defamation suits but not of any threats of removing via a tribunal.'
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bar Council president: 'The disclosures are both startling and damning. Judges must make known and, if necessary, make public any acts of interference by any party. That allegation and all the other disclosures made by Chin must be looked into, not only by the chief justice but by all other relevant authorities. Judges, both present and past, must be encouraged to come forward and provide information of any such instances of interference so that further action may be taken.'