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Lingam tape: Probe ends, wait begins for outcome - Malaysiakini
Beh Lih Yi

Oct 29, 07 12:25pm

The three-member panel tasked with looking into the authenticity of the explosive ‘Lingam tape’ was uncertain as to whether the findings would be made public, as it wrapped up the investigation today.

“That is up to the government, we can’t make the report public now,” panel chairperson Haidar Mohd Noor told a press conference after chairing a five-hour meeting in Kuala Lumpur today.

“The government must be the first to read our report and we leave it to the government to decide whether to release it.”

Haidar, the former chief judge of Malaya, said he was “not sure” when asked who the report would be submitted to, and turned to ask a secretariat staff - from the Prime Minister’s Department - for the information.

“PM ke? (To the prime minister?) I have to check. It depends-lah, whoever is free to (receive the report), whether the prime minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) or the deputy prime minister (Najib Abdul Razak),” he answered.

The other panel members at the meeting, held at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia headquarters, were former court of appeal judge Mahadev Shankar and social activist Lee Lam Thye.

Today’s meeting, the second since the panel was appointed on Sept 27, was also expected to be the last before the Nov 9 deadline set for it to complete its task.

Haidar said the panel was wrapping up its investigation to furnish a report to the government before Nov 9 and was not likely to seek an extension to further its investigation.

“We (can) wash our hands off (at that time), then no more criticism,” he noted, in reference to widespread negative comments about its limited terms of reference and sole task - to determine the authenticity of the video clip.

Expert views To date, the only evidence available to the panel has been a copy of the eight-minute clip - which has been widely circulated in public since it was released on Sept 19 by PKR. A copy, obtained, from the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), was screened for the panel today.

The ACA has not succeeded in getting a full version of the 14-minute clip, which PKR had cut to protect the identity of the two whistleblowers.

“Nobody has come forward to give evidence in respect of the authenticity of the video clip,” said Haidar, adding that the panel will have to work based on what it has.

It obtained the views of the ACA investigation team and two digital forensic experts from a government-linked agency, Cyber Security Malaysia, as to the authenticity of the clip. However, Haidar was tightlipped about the views from the local experts when repeatedly questioned by journalists.

Asked whether the clip can now be deemed as authentic or otherwise, based on the advice provided, Haidar replied: “No, no, I can’t say that. We are supposed to prepare a report with our opinion to the government.”

He also did not want to entertain a question as to whether he considered the evidence gathered by the panel as sufficient, telling the journalist that there should be “no fishing” for information.

On whether the video clip that was used as the evidence for the panel was good enough since it has been deemed as ‘tampered with’ by the ACA, Haidar replied: “We will see.”

Asked if the panel was happy with its investigation result so far, he replied: “Within the limited (terms), (the answer can be) either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We can’t say very much, nobody has come forward.”

AG, IGP present Haidar also said the panel has been given authority by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to hold evidence gathered by the ACA in investigating the controversy. The ACA is bound by a statutory duty not to divulge its evidence before a matter is prosecuted, except to its own officials or a public prosecutor.

“We have authority from the AG as the public prosecutor for the ACA to provide us, only us, with the information,” Haidar said in a bid to fend off even more criticism of the panel. Abdul Gani, Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan and deputy ACA director-general Abu Kassim Mohd. Abdul Gani were at the meeting.

They stayed for about an hour and left without making any comments. Abu Kassim, who was joined by his officers - including special task branch head Sazali Salbi who had earlier questioned de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim - stayed to the end of the meeting but also did not speak to journalists. In a related development, one of the two digital forensic experts who assisted the panel declined to comment when contacted by Malaysiakini.

“We can’t reveal (whether the clip is authentic). It is only ethical for the panel to make any announcement (if any),” said Aswami Fadillah Mohd Ariffin, the digital forensic head at the Cyber Security Malaysia.
Aswami did say, however, that he and another senior analyst at the Seri Kembangan-based agency had been engaged to assist the panel “from the beginning”.

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