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Najib should not try to cover up the VK Lingam video clip scandal by questioning its authenticity and how can the Attorney-General state that no criminal offence has been committed when VK Lingam has not even been questioned by the police?
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The BN government is clearly confused with contradictory, inconsistent and even self-incriminating remarks or “no-comments” by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor over the VK Lingam video discussing and fixing the appointment of pliant and “friendly” judges close to certain parties. PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim had exposed the video showing senior lawyer VK Lingam in a telephone conversation with purportedly the current Chief Justice, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim on how to ensure Ahmad’s elevation as the chief justice of Malaya and chief justice, which took place in 2003, and how Lingam helped in the appointment of other friendly judges.
The confusion is clear when Najib refused to comment until the government first confirms the authenticity of the ‘VK Lingam’ video before deciding on the next course of action. However in today’s New Straits Times, Tan Sri Gani does not appear to doubt the video’s authenticity, stating that no criminal offence appears to have been committed in discussing judicial appointments to the Bench. In the same report Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz appears to also confirm the video’s authenticity when he said the authorities would act on the video clip when an official report was made.
Finally if the video is not true why then did Tengku Adnan, who was deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department when the video was allegedly made in 2002, and who was referred to a number of times by the lawyer in the video, refused to comment to the New Straits Times? If the video was false, Tengku Adnan would have immediately issued a strong denial. Tengku Adnan’s silence can only be construed by the public as a tacit admission of what had happened. Again if the video clip is false, why did Ahmad Fairuz himself kept silent and not issue denials or demanded action.
Due to the seriousness of the allegations, a responsible Attorney-General would immediately investigate by calling up VK Lingam for questioning. Why was Lingam not questioned by the police first before Tan Sri Gani flippantly dismissed the case as committing no criminal offence? This shows a prejudiced mind that was willing to pre-judge and cover up the case.
DAP strongly disagrees with Tan Sri Gani that no criminal offence is committed in discussing and fixing up judicial appointments. The importance and significance of judicial appointments is outlined under Article 122B(1) of the Federal Constitution clearly states that,
“The Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges of the High Courts and (subject to Article 122C) the other judges of the Federal Court, of the Court of Appeal and of the High Courts shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers.”
Such powers are the prerogative of the King after acting on advice of the Prime Minister and consulting the Conference of Rulers to ensure that judges are fair and can dispense justice independently and impartially. Any attempt by private lawyers with private interests to subvert or influence judicial appointments in their favour would violate the sanctity of this constitutional provision. Such an attempt can be seen as an act of contempt that falls under Article 126 of the Federal Constitution which states “the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal or a High Court shall have power to punish any contempt of itself”. Such powers by the courts to punish any contempt can be of criminal form and nature.
Such confusion in the BN government when dealing with this VK Lingam video scandal shows a consistent pattern of political meddling and interference in the judiciary by not only the Executive but also vested private interests that has undermined and destroyed the independence of the judiciary. The time has come to respect the separation of powers enshrined in our Federal Constitution between Parliament, Judiciary and the Executive by breaking up this serial expansion of powers of the Executive at the expense of dilution of judicial independence.
DAP calls for a Full Royal Commission of Inquiry into this scandal and that the Chief Justice temporarily step down. Only a full Royal Commission of Inquiry comprising of distinguished overseas jurists and judges have the integrity, capability and moral authority to convince Malaysians and ensure that truth and justice shall prevail.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP