I have few questions that need answers and I believe other wants to know too
(i) Will the holder of the video recording be protected the moment he tells all?
(ii) With due respect to the panel, in what power does the panel has in compelling witnesses to come and aid in their investigation?
Simple questions want simple answer. A Yes or a No is good enough.
© The Sun (Used by permission)
by Llew-Ann Phang and Terence Fernandez
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 3, 2007): The panel investigating the authenticity of a video clip showing a senior lawyer purportedly discussing the appointment of top judges over the telephone today asked the person who recorded it to come forward "for the sake of Malaysia".
"Somebody out there (has) the original video. Does he have the responsibility (to come forward)? There may have been others who were there (during the incident). Have they got the responsibility?
"If you don’t come, don’t complain, because at the end of the day, our report is based on the material made available to us," said panel member Datuk Mahadev Shankar.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) revealed the eight-minute-long video clip on Sept 19, withholding about six minutes at the end of the video to protect the identity of the person who took it. Several other people were also in the video, said to be taken in 2002 at the home of the senior lawyer, believed to be Datuk V.K. Lingam.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had announced the setting-up of the independent three-man panel (headed by fomer Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor. The other member is National Service Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye) on Sept 25. It has 30 days from Sept 27 to complete its assignment and report to the government.
Mahadev, a former Court of Appeal judge, urged "anyone with knowledge on the authenticity of the video to come forward to provide evidence" through its secretariat – the Putrajaya-based Prime Minister’s Department Legal Division.
"Make sure that the evidence is reliable, relevant and we will have to decide on its admissibility."
He said witnesses should provide their names, IC number and how they can be contacted should the panel need more information. Evidence submitted would be weighed against the standards set by the Evidence Act 1950 and sources would be called if the panel was interested.
The panel met for the first time today in the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) Menara Tun Razak premises on Jalan Raja Laut. The meeting lasted four hours.
Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Gani Patail, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan and his deputy Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed each spent between 10 and 30 minutes with the panel.
Haidar, whose appointment has been questioned by certain groups because of the role he played during the judicial crisis of 1988 when then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas was sacked, said the panel discussed its next steps and procedures. The meeting with the four top lawmen was to see how the agencies could extend their cooperation.
"We hope to meet them in two weeks or when they are ready to give us more (information)," Haidar said.
Mahadev said the panel had no legal powers or legal immunity as it was not a Commission of Inquiry but its only authority were the terms of reference - compile a report and send it to the appointing body.
"The only immunity we have is our conscience, our good faith and the honesty of our purpose," he said.
On protection for voluntary witnesses, Mahadev said: "The truth is the best protection. People who have got that knowledge will have to be bold enough to come (forward) if not for anything, for the sake of Malaysia."
Mahadev also made an observation of "harmful information" on Haidar and Lee circulating on the internet. "We have no vested interest here. All we want to do is finish our job as quickly as possible and go home," he said.
To questions on PKR's claims of conflicts of interest - Haidar on his role in the 1988 judicial crisis and Lee on his public and private positions, namely the NS Council chairperson which had its own scandals involving the death of its trainees, and his position as a Media Prima Sdn Bhd director – Haidar said he could not stop people from questioning the panel members’ ability.
"Our conscience is clear. Anybody can make allegations," he said, adding that he "did not want to enter into arguments" when asked on his role in the Salleh's sacking.
Earlier, 20 PKR members and concerned citizens gathered at the Suhakam office to present a memorandum on their lack of confidence in the panel and its limited terms of reference, and to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry. However, they could not do so as Haidar did not want to interrupt the meeting to meet the group.
It is learnt Lingam, who the ACA had been trying to contact to help in its investigation, is expected to be called up by the panel.
Sources said Lingam returned from abroad several days ago. Investigators contacted him in London and he told the Malaysian authorities that he will cooperate.
Officials from the A-G's Chambers and the ACA have declined to comment.