Panel under fire for postponing meeting - Malaysiakini

Nukilan Khairul Faizi bin Ahmad Kamil | 10/18/2007 09:20:00 AM | 0 Pandangan »

The independent panel investigating into the authenticity of the scandalous VK Lingam tape has come under severe criticism after putting off its second meeting today.

The panel - given one month to investigate into the video - had their first meeting two weeks ago and were scheduled to meet today with the agency, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the police to collate evidence.

However, this was put back to Oct 29.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang questioned the usefulness and progress of the three-member panel led by former chief judge of Malaya Haidar Mohd Noor with former judge Mahadev Shankar and National Service Training Council chairperson Lee Lam Thye.

“With 10 days left before its deadline of Oct 27 to submit its report, who believes that the Haidar panel is capable of submitting any report to authenticate the Lingam tape after hibernating in the past three weeks?

“(They are also) relying completely on the Anti-Corruption Agency to do all the legwork and refusing to call in technical experts to verify its authenticity without having to demand for the source of the recording,” he said in a statement today.

The panel set up on Sept 26 by the government after the release of a controversial eight-minute video clip that showed senior lawyer Lingam apparently brokering the appointment of ‘friendly’ judges with Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim in 2002.

Reports were also lodged to the ACA by PKR members R Sivarasa and Sim Tze Tzin who were later given notices to disclose their sources or face state prosecution.
According to China Press, the panel had postponed its second meeting - scheduled to take place at the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) office in Kuala Lumpur - due to ACA's inability to complete its investigations into the Lingam tape. However, the ACA were not available for comments on this matter.

Upstaged by Nazri

Meanwhile, a Suhakam official said she did not know the reason for the cancellations and that the office has been empty this morning, save for a few journalists. Lim also noted that there has been no official clarification about deputy prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s statement on Oct 3 that the panel was not to call any witnesses.

He also said the panel that disappeared from public view was upstaged by the de facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz who claimed that witnesses and whistleblowers are protected by the law.

Nazri reportedly said plastic surgery can be afforded to give ‘a new identity or even new look’ for the persons who took the Lingam tape, only to find out subsequently that there is no such Witness Protection Act or Bill.

He later said he will ask the Cabinet to provide protection for the people behind the recording of the Lingam tape, only to announce after the Cabinet meeting that there would be no such protection.

Lim also opined that the panel should realise that it lacks public confidence and credibility because of its narrow terms of reference and the integrity of Haidar because of his past and present positions.

He said that the “greatest service the panel can do to the cause of justice is for its three members to resign en masse”.

“And ask the Prime Minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) to end the state of denial and establish a royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tape scandal and to restore public confidence in the independence, integrity and meritocracy of the judiciary,” he added.

Attempts to contact the panel members to comment on the meeting postponement by Malaysiakini were not successful

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