Shafee Abdullah added that he was even willing to let Raja Petra have his pick of which judge should preside over the trial if the latter wished, in order that the trial could begin right away. – The Malaysian Insider
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
By the Malaysian Bar Council: from the New Straits Times
Lingam's lawyer accuses Shafee of case-fixing
by V. Anbalagan and Hafiz A. Yatim, the New Straits Times
Two lawyers provided a sideshow during proceedings yesterday with one of them accusing the other of fixing a case. The "accused" was Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and the accuser was R. Thayalan who is appearing for Datuk V.K. Lingam.
The allegation drew murmurs from those present.
Thayalan told the commission that a police report was lodged against Shafee in 1996 and added that they would go deeper into the matter if the situation arose. The matter came about after Shafee had tendered a written application on why he should be called to testify in the ongoing inquiry.
He had applied verbally last week to be included as one of the witnesses but his application was rejected. But when it was made known that Shafee had submitted a written application yesterday, Thayalan objected on the grounds that Shafee's credibility was in doubt, referring to the police report lodged against him.
Commission member Datuk Mahadev Shankar was quick to calm the situation. "I am sure, he (Shafee) will be happy to answer the allegation."
Bar Council representative Christopher Leong pointed out that Thayalan's statement was tantamount to intimidating a witness. "It is a great concern to us. Thayalan has indicated that he will raise the case-fixing matter if Shafee took the stand," he said, adding that the report against Shafee had no relevance to the ongoing proceedings.
"This is a threat to Shafee and it is an offence under the Commission of Inquiry Act to hinder a witness from giving evidence," Leong said, adding that Thayalan had not even read Shafee's statement.
Mahadev said that the commission had taken note of Thayalan's statement and would act on it at the appropriate time. Shafee, who was in court, then stood up to clarify the police report. "It has nothing to do with case-fixing but on alleged breach of official secrets."
The lawyer claimed he was put into trouble over the report and was almost arrested. Thaylan then said the report would be raised only to test the credibility of Shafee's evidence if he was called to take the stand.
"This is a report on case-fixing. Shafee had written who were the parties and the judicial commissioner involved," Thayalan said. He said if the matter arose, then the judicial commissioner would also have to be called to give evidence.
Thayalan said Shafee's statement was recorded by the then CID director, (Tan Sri) Musa Hassan, who is now the inspector-general of police.
Shafee retorted that it was unethical for a lawyer to reveal information about the case, adding that the report against him was lodged by judicial commissioner Datuk K.L. Rekhraj. "The report was lodged at the instruction of Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin (then chief justice of Malaysia). Rekhraj personally apologised to me about the matter later," Shafee said.
Eusoff's counsel Datuk Hazman Ahmad stood up and said his client was not involved.
Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor then cut short the sideshow and ordered that proceedings continue with Lingam's brother, V. Thirunama Karasu, taking the stand.
This is the second time an accusation has been levelled against a lawyer in the inquiry. Last week, Lingam, who was in the stand, had accused Robert Lazar, who was appearing for the Bar, of trying to broker a seat for himself in the Court of Appeal.
Lingam had alleged that Lazar had sought his help in organising a meeting with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's son, Mukhriz. Lazar vehemently denied those allegations, calling them an "outrageous lie".
Thirunama: I met Eusoff Chin in 1995
V. Thirunama Karasu stood up in the witness box as a "mark of respect" to identify former chief justice Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin as the person whom he met some 12 years ago. "I have to respect him because he is a Tun," said Thirunama to the laughter of those in the courtroom.
Thirunama identified Eusoff as the gentleman whom he had met in 1995 and 1996.
Eusoff arrived at court about 12.30pm after the commission instructed his counsel Datuk Hazman Ahmad that the presence of the retired chief justice was vital. Thirunama's counsel, Wee Choo Keong, had earlier sought clarification whether Eusoff would be called for his client to identify the former chief justice.
Hazman objected, stating that Eusoff, who had earlier testified, had said that he did not know Thirunama. Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor then said that was all the more reason for Eusoff to be here. "Can you ask him to come now," he said, as Hazman hurriedly walked out to make a phone call.
Hazman then suggested to Thirunama that he knew Eusoff from the newspapers and watching television as the media had given extensive coverage to the proceedings.
"No it's not true, I met him (Eusoff) way back in 1995," he said.
Wee then asked Thirunama how many times Eusoff was seen in Lingam's house.
Thirunama: Twice. I saw Eusoff and Lamin (Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus, the former Court of Appeal president) who came for dinner.
Lingam's counsel, R. Thayalan, objected to the line of questioning as this was not in Thirunama's statement. Mahadev allowed the question on the grounds that Lingam had denied that Eusoff came to his Kelana Jaya home.
Mahadev: This is to ascertain the credibility of Eusoff and Lingam.
Thirunama said Eusoff came to Lingam's house for the second time to bid farewell to Lingam and his wife, who were leaving for the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota in the United States.
Wee: Apart from Eusoff, to whom did you distribute handphones?
Thirunama: Among them was Datuk Mokhtar Sidin.
Haidar: Come on, we have to work within the terms and reference of the inquiry. He (Thirunama) cannot be given a free ride.
Wee: But these proceedings could be the "mother of all inquiries".
(Wee then went on to another question.)
Wee: Did Shafee (lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah) take you to a minister's house?
Thirunama: Yes, he took me to meet former minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abang Abu Bakar Abang Mustapha at his house in Ukay Heights.
Thirunama: This was after I lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency against my brother and Eusoff in 1998.
Wee then mentioned the names of judicial commissioner Datuk K.L. Rekhraj and Datuk Low Hop Bing who is still serving.
(These names were in Thirunama's statement to the inquiry to determine if he could testify.)
The commissioners warned Wee against raising the names of the judges as they would be deleted from Thirunama's statement.
Wee: I hope the commission can be fair and allow me some latitude.
Mahadev: We want to make sure you do not go off track. There must be procedural fairness to others.
Wee: The commission was not fair as Thirunama was first asked to supply a statement before he was allowed to testify. Others like Eusoff, Lingam and another former chief justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, gave evidence without having to give statements. I agree that I cannot talk about Low and Mokhtar. These are special people.
Wee asked Thirunama if he gave the telephone numbers of Eusoff and Rekhraj to the ACA to facilitate investigations. Thirunama replied that he did.
Shim then remarked that Wee was trying to squeeze blood out of stone.
Wee said he was trying to establish that Lingam was intimately close to Eusoff.