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Royal Commission of Inquiry – did Cabinet make the decisions on terms of reference and composition which are to be announced by the Prime Minister or the Cabinet merely decided that these decisions are to be taken at the next Cabinet meeting?

Media Conference          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): Malaysians are utterly confused as to what the Cabinet decided on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape and the Judiciary yesterday.

Did yesterday’s Cabinet, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawai was in Singapore for the ASEAN Summit, make the decisions on the terms of reference, scope of power and composition which are to be announced by the Prime Minister – as was the impression given by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in his comments to the press at the Parliament lobby?

Or did the Cabinet yesterday just decided that decisions on these aspects of the Royal Commission of Inquiry are put off to the next Cabinet meeting, as appears to be gist of what Abdullah said in Singapore last evening?

Whatever the case, it paints a picture of a bumbling and shambolic Cabinet which is neither serious nor professional in handling vital national issues, especially one so critical in determining Malaysia’s international competitiveness such as national and international confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

It has taken the Prime Minister and the Cabinet two months to decide that there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape, when this would have been the right, proper and immediate thing for a government which is serious about accountability, integrity and good governance to do.

Why is the Abdullah government continuing to drag its feet on the Royal Commission of Inquiry, as if this is the least of its concerns?

Furthermore, why has the Haidar Panel Report not yet been made public, another implicit undertaking of the Prime Minister? What has the government got to hide in refusing to immediately making public the Haidar Report?

Special Cabinet meetings outside the weekly Wednesday meetings had been held before. This is one subject whose import would justify a special Cabinet meeting so that the necessary decisions could be taken if they had not been taken yet – and I call on Abdullah not to delay any further but to act decisively to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry with untrammeled powers not only to investigate into every aspect of judicial impropriety disclosed in the Lingam Tape but also probe into the 19-year series of crisis of confidence on the independence and integrity of the judiciary so that judges, lawyers and all Malaysians can feel proud again about the Malaysian judiciary and system of justice.


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

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