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Will the crisis of judiciary balloon into Abdullah’s first major crisis of confidence because of Haidar Panel finding and government attempt to bury the Lingam Tape scandal as a non-issue?

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Saturday): With five days to go for the three-man Haidar Panel to complete its finding, the Panel will go down in the nation’s history as the most useless and impotent inquiry with the least to do and the least expected of it in view of its ridiculously narrow and restricted term of reference to establish the authenticity of the Lingam Tape with its explosive expose of the perversion course of justice with serious allegations of fixing of judicial appointments and court decisions.

With the retirement of Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as Chief Justice without any extension, the powers-that-be may be minded to think that this is opportune time to lay to rest the controversy of the Lingam Tape which was released by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sept. 18.

Two weeks ago, the de facto Law Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz appeared to be coaching the Haidar Panel on its finding when he said that it would be “unfortunate if the mechanism (Haidar Panel) set up is not used by the people” as “we may conclude there is no case”!

Is the Haidar Panel being coached by Nazri to come out with the finding that the Lingam Tape is a non-issue as no witness has come forward to vouch for its authenticity?

Although such a final finding by the Haidar Panel would come as no surprise, it would nonetheless be a scandal of the first magnitude for it is just outrageous that a panel to establish the authenticity of the Lingam Tape had no independent powers of investigations but must depend solely on the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) for its technical expertise and forensic finding.

When Osama bin Laden occasionally emerged from his hideout to issue dire warnings to the United States government in his videotapes, no one from the White House, FBI or CIA would take the position that unless Osama or some witness surface to vouch for their authenticity, or unless the original tape is produced, the tapes concerned would be regarded as fakes!

Why then are the Malaysian Cabinet Ministers and the various government agencies, including the Haidar Panel, taking such a ridiculous stand?

In the process of establishing the authenticity of a tape, forensic investigations including voice and image matching to determine whether there had been any “doctoring” are important, but equally pertinent is content-analysis with regard to the issues discussed.

As the Haidar Panel has been stripped of all powers to call witnesses to undertake a “content analysis” of the Lingam Tape to help establish its authenticity, it is no exaggeration to describe the Haidar Panel as having both its hands and feet fully tied from the first day of its formation.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be making a fatal error of judgment if he thinks that just because Fairuz, believed to be the other person at the other end of the Lingam Tape, is no more Chief Justice, the entire Lingam Tape scandal can be buried with the Haidar Panel finding that it could not establish the authenticity of the tape – and burying in the process all the serious allegations about the perversion of the course of justice in recent years which have brought the Malaysian judiciary and system of justice to such disrepute, both nationally and internationally.

The Haidar Panel cannot establish the authenticity of the Lingam Tape. It also cannot establish that the Lingam Tape is not authentic, of being a fake or having been tampered or doctored.

It is the latter fact that is important, as in the absence of any finding that the Lingam Tape is fake or “doctored”, there should be no further delay for the Prime Minister to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape as well as the restoration of public confidence in the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary.

Otherwise, what is a scandal affecting the judiciary and directly Lingam and Fairuz would balloon to a major national crisis of confidence implicating the government and the Prime Minister, making it the first mega Abdullah scandal?


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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