Nov 5, 07 12:22pm
The three-member inquiry panel set up to probe the authenticity of controversial ‘Lingam tape’ will not submit a joint report to the government when it wraps up its task tomorrow.
“We’ve made our decision and prepared our individual reports to be submitted to the secretariat at 3.30pm tomorrow,” chairperson Haidar Mohd Noor (left) said at an impromptu press conference after chairing the panel’s final meeting at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur today.
“The secretariat will arrange with the Prime Minister’s Department as to when and to whom - whether the prime minister or his deputy - the report will be handed at a suitable date.”
The secretariat to the panel comprises several staff members drawn from the legal affairs division of the PM’s Department. They were present at the hour-long meeting.
Pressed as to whether the decision to submit separate reports reflects a split over the panel’s findings, Haidar declined to answer but reiterated that the final report would consist of “individual reports”.
“I don’t know. It will be individual reports-lah. The secretariat will compile (the three reports) and submit it (to the government),” he responded when asked if the panel had failed to find consensus over its findings.
Asked if he was satisfied with the inquiry and its findings, Haidar retorted: “What do you mean by ‘satisfied’? If the government decides to release the report later, you baca-lah (read it).”
The panel had earlier said it would not announce its findings, but would leave it to the government to decide whether or not to make the report public. Haidar also said the panel would issue a press statement tomorrow after handing over the reports to the secretariat, at the same hotel, and that it is not prepared to make additional comments to the media.
Haidar, a former chief judge of Malaya, appeared reluctant to respond to questions and ended the press conference in just three minutes.
Only a small number of reporters were present as no official media advisory had been sent out. Haidar was apparently surprised by the presence of journalists outside the meeting room.
The other two panel members - former court of appeal judge Mahadev Shankar and politician-turned-social activist Lee Lam Thye - left soon after the meeting was over and did not attend the press conference.
The trio were officially appointed on Sept 27 and had been given 30 working days to complete their task by Nov 9.
Meeting outside Suhakam
Today’s meeting was the third and final one for the panel. For the first time, it was not held at the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) headquarters, which had provided an office. The two previous meetings saw unexpected appearances by a group of protestors who demanded that the panel be dissolved, and that the government set to a royal commission of inquiry instead.
No witnesses have come forward to give evidence before the panel, apart from two digital forensic experts at a government-linked agency which the panel had engaged to obtain advice.
The panel has been widely criticised for its lack of powers to inquire into the controversy since its only terms of reference is to look into the authenticity of the clip and not the alleged ‘judicial appointment fixing’ that has caused public outrage.
The government announced the formation of the panel a day before 2,000 lawyers participated in an unprecedented 3.5km march in Putrajaya to demand investigation by a Royal commission of inquiry.
The eight-minute clip, released by PKR on Sept 19, showed senior lawyer VK Lingam talking on the phone, allegedly with then Chief Judge of Malaya (and since Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim until he retired on Oct 31) on appointing ‘friendly’ judges.
Ahmad Fairuz has denied his involvement in the telephone conversation through a minister, while Lingam has been silent to date despite media attempts to obtain comments.