Monday, February 04, 2008

Day 13 – RCI – “100% my Brother V K Lingam” says Thirunama younger brother; from body language, movement & voice; Anwar-Aliran: Remarks - No Apology

Day 13 – RCI“100% my Brother V K Lingam” says Thirunama younger brother from body language, movement & voice; No Apology from Anwar & Aliran over Remarks criticizing RCI
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UPDATE: More detailed REPORTS from Malaysian Bar Website reporters on The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Video Clip - Day 13 Session 1
Contributed by Syamsuriatina Binti Ishak;
Monday, 04 February 2008 04:47pm

Former President of Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Lamin Yunus' name mention
. Lingam tape: More judges implicated
. Anwar, Aliran stand by 'contempt' remarks
. No apology from Anwar, Aliran over Internet remarks on Commission
. Man in video clip is 100 per cent my brother, says Thirunama

KUALA LUMPUR: Day 13 of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the V.K. Lingam Video Clip started at 10.50am this morning.
Tan Sri Haidar started the proceedings by stating that a lengthy written
statement had just been submitted by Dato' Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, and the Commission needed time to digest it in order to come to a conclusion whether he needed to be called to testify. Datuk Shankar then began by addressing all as to the findings of the Commission in relation to the internet statements by Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim and one Siva Pravakaran. At this point, counsel for both Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Aliran, M Puravalen (BELOW) and CV Prabhakaran interjected to seek the Commission's indulgence for them to make a statement of explanation concerning their statements. Datuk Shankar denied this request, urging both to merely give their stand on whether they were willing to give an unqualified apology. Both parties confirmed that they were not willing to apologise for the statements they made, and that they stood by the same as being fair comment.

That being said, Datuk Shankar then addressed the gallery with a ten-minute clarification on the ruling made by the Commission on 30 January 2008 concerning 2 articles on the internet, namely the first being a statement by Aliran stating their disappointment of the failure of the Commission to call
Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Siva Rasiah, Sim Tze Tsin and 2 other 'secret' persons as witnesses. The second being the statement by Dato' Seri Anwar alleging that the Commission was being manipulated by unseen hands. The Commission reiterated their stand on why they felt the evidence of the 5 was unnecessary based on evidence produced thus far before them and their grounds for doing so as stated on
30 January 2008.
The Commission felt that the innuendo apparent from the two statements was that the Commission was 'merely part of the judiciary' showing how they
'improperly came to the aid of Tun Eusoff Chin when he was in a tight spot'. To this, the Commission stated that their intention was merely to point out that he was entitled to get legal representation and that this they would have done for any witness in a similar position. On the issue of evidence alleged to be heard in camera, the Commission clarified that only submissions and not evidence were heard in camera, which was necessary to enable the Commission to make a finding on which evidence would fall within its terms of reference. On the allegation that the Commission was being manipulated by unseen hands, the Commission stated that they had stopped nothing which would shed light on testimony given thus far, provided it fell within the terms of reference.

It was noted that parties are entitled to ask questions on designated passages, the objective of which must be directly related not to fixing of cases but to the relationship between Tun Eusoff Chin or any other party which tends to show that they were involved in improper conduct as to the appointment or removal of judges. By that ruling the Commission concluded that it was only prepared to accept evidence which fell within the terms of reference, wherein the limits of this ruling had been fully ventilated during closed door hearing on 25 January 2008.

The 18th Witness, Thirunama Karasu (ABOVE, on last day 13) was then called to take the stand. Deputy Prosecuting Officer, Dato' Nordin referred the witness to statements which had been designated by the Commission as falling within the terms of reference, which the witness confirmed were his and were true. However, the witness made corrections to the statement concerning the vehicle which he had stated to be used for driving his brother, Dato' VK Lingam to and fro Tun Eusoff Chin's house, wherein the vehicle registration number had been erroneously quoted as 'WDN 788' when it should have been be 'WDV 788'. The witness added: "My brother told me this car belongs to Tan Sri Vincent Tan and it's a bullet proof car."

Before proceeding with further questioning of his client, counsel Wee Choo Keong (ABOVE) then asked if Tun Eusoff Chin could be called upon to attend before the Commission to be identified by his client, which request was granted by the Commission.
On initial questioning, Thirunama confirmed that in 1998 he worked as an electrician doing various odd jobs and handywork. The witness explained that in 1972, he came to
Kuala Lumpur to live with his 3 brothers in a rented room in Sea Park. When asked whether it was true that Dato' Lingam had
purchased a house under his name, the witness confirmed that indeed the house was purchased under Dato' Lingam's name but later transferred into the
oint names of all 7 siblings.

Thirunama testified that in early 1970s, he had seen Tan Sri Vincent Tan visiting his brother at No. 28 S21/1 Sea Park. When Pradeep Kumar, counsel for Dato' Lingam objected to this line of questioning, Datuk Shankar noted that since Pradeep's client had given evidence to the contrary, the opponent was entitled to lead evidence to throw light on his credibility. However, Datuk Shankar also stated that the Pradeep would of course be entitled to later submit on the weight of that evidence.

When Wee questioned whether Tan Sri Vincent Tan was close to the witness' brother, Thirunama replied that Dato' Lingam had once shown him pictures in his possession of a trip to India taken by Dato' Lingam, Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Sayed Baba. The witness confirmed that he knew his brother very well since he had stayed with him for many years, ran errands for him since way back 1977 and maintained a house owned by the latter by gardening, pruning trees and some construction work.

Thirunama went on to say that he was familiar with his brother's movement, body language and voice and stated that based on the video clip he was "100% sure that it is my brother!". Thirunama stated that Dato' Lingam's testimony that he had worked only 2 hours daily in the latter's office in order to take care of his asthmatic children is not true because while he and his wife worked, his children were sent to a neighbouring babysitter and that he worked many hours without rest in Dato' Lingam's office. Thirunama further stated that he had met a member of Dato' Lingam's staff
Jeyanthi once in 1996 after which she had resigned. When questioned about the occasion when he drove Dato' Lingam to Tun Eusoff Chin's residence, the witness stated that Dato' Lingam had told him that the latter was involved in an important case named Ayer Molek, which at the time he knew nothing about. Thirunama confirmed that when he came back to collect Dato' Lingam at
Tun Eusoff Chin's house, he saw his brother bowing to Tun Eusoff Chin saying, "Thank you My Lord, Thank you My Lord".

When referred to his other statement concerning a warning given by the witness to his brother on judge tampering, the witness explained that in 1996 during the Perwaja investigation, he had witnessed Dato' Lingam arguing with his wife, Datin Dr Paramjothy shouting at the former to "stop this business with the judges". When asked to elaborate on his own advice, Thirunama said he had told his brother: "An-ne, please be careful when you go to Tun Eusoff Chin's house or any other judges' house, someone will catchyou."

On Tan Sri Haidar's comment, the witness clarified that 'An-ne' meant 'big brother'. Thirunama added: "I always call him An-ne, I don't call him Dato'".
The witness stated that during the period of 1996-1998, he was instructed to drive his brother to and fro Tun Eusoff Chin's house 7 to 8 times. He clarified that he also went on his own, delivered cakes from Angel Cake house, a briefcase and 3 bowls of soup. Thirunama stated that he had spoken to Tun Eusoff Chin on 3 occasions in person and once on the telephone when he picked up his brother's mobile phone for him.

Apart from the witness himself, Thirunama stated that he was aware drivers Chandran and Mogan had also driven Dato' Lingam to and fro Tun Eusoff Chin's house in 1994 to 1996. The witness said that he had later met with Chandran in Dato' Shafee's firm when he submitted his police report to Dato' Shafee. On request for clarification as to what Chandran was doing at Dato' Shafee's office, Thirunama stated that he had been informed by Chandran that he was then employed as driver to Dato' Shafee's wife.

Thirunama stated that he had seen Tun Eusoff Chin at Dato' Lingam's house on 2 occasions, once at a dinner which was also attended by Tan Sri Lamin and wife; the second occasion, when Tun Eusoff Chin and wife bed farewell to the Lingams, who were on the way to treatment in the US Mayo Clinic.
Upon Datuk Shankar's questioning, the witness confirmed that none of those occasions was for a Deepavali celebration. The witness further stated that he had been told by Dato' Lingam's other driver, Mogan that the latter had once picked up Tun Eusoff Chin from
Subang Airport in 1994. On the issue of the BMW registration no. WDV788, Thirunama once again stated that the car belonged to Tan Sri Vincent Tan, was bulletproof and driven by the latter's bodyguard and personal driver, Encik Ramli. The witness stated that Dato' Lingam used this car for nearly a year.
When questioned about the house stated to have been purchased by Dato' Lingam for Tun Eusoff Chin, Thirunama stated that he came to the conclusion that Tun Eusoff Chin and wife were not happy with the same as Tun Eusoff Chin had stated in his presence and that of Dato' Lingam and bodyguard that the house faced a sharp corner too near to the main road, which Tun Eusoff
Chin expressed would be too dangerous for his children.

The witness stated that in reply Dato' Lingam said, "If not happy with this house, we will look for you a bigger land." The witness confirmed that upon his brother's instructions, he had contacted his friend, Vijendran, who worked with Reapfields property agents, who subsequently found 2 plots of land in SS3 and in SS7 area of PJ. The land was viewed by Dato' Lingam, Panjaratnam and the witness's other brother, Paramjothy. The witness admitted he did not know whether Dato' Lingam went through with the purchase of the lands. When questioned, the witness confirmed that this detail had been recorded in his 'black diary' which he subsequently surrendered to the ACA during the latter's questioning. Thirunama testified that he had also personally delivered an Italian briefcase and handbag to Tun Eusoff Chin, which was opened by the latter and contained a brown envelope, the contents of which he was unaware. The witness testified that Tun Eusoff Chin had remarked that day that he was very tired, having just returned from London where he stayed at Porchester Gate. When questioned further, the witness stated that the property in Porchester Gate belonged to Tan Sri Vincent Tan. The witness further stated that his brother, Dato' Lingam had in 1995 shown the witness photographs taken by the latter with Tun Eusoff Chin in New Zealand. The witness stated that he had advised his brother against framing up of the photograph: "I told him: An-ne, don't be stupid, don't frame these photographs. You'll be in trouble."

When Tan Sri Haidar (ABOVE) remarked on the witness' eagerness to state the truth, Wee remarked that his client's testimony was pursuant to the subpoena served on him and was necessary to assist the Commission to shed light on the entire situation. Thereafter, Wee led his witness through his testimony concerning his narration of the facts made to lawyer Tommy Thomas, in the presence of Haji Sulaiman Abdullah and Dato' Abang Abu Bakar, former Dean of Law Faculty of University Malaya at Dato' Abang Abu Bakar's residence in Ukay Heights.
When the Commission reminded Wee that he would have to confine his questions to paragraphs already designated by the Commission and steer clear of paragraphs excluded, Wee went on to question Thirunama on the ACA investigation against his brother in 1998. The witness testified that at that time his brother, Dato' Lingam, came to his house, took him to a Chinese restaurant, ordering him to go to see one Dr. Mahadevan for a check up, threatened him against saying anything against Dato' Lingam, by stating "Tan Sri Vincent Tan has connections with gangsters, they will put you in lockup, your children will be kidnapped."

At this point the witness Tun Eusoff Chin (ABOVE, specially summoned) was led into the courtroom, and Thirunama identified him as Tun Eusoff Chin, former Chief Justice of Malaysia.
The witness was then questioned by Datuk Shankar: Datuk Shankar: Dato' Lingam said that you and your lawyers called him and
demanded money. The motive attributed to you was you were trying to get money, otherwise you would spread all these stories.
Thirunama: That is not true.
Datuk Shankar: He also said you were in a state of unbalanced mind. . Are you mad? Were you mad at that time?
Thirunama: Not true. Not mad. I am 110% not mad!
Datuk Shankar then remarked that Wee need not produce any further evidence on the issue of the witness' state of mind. If there was no evidence to show that the witness was insane or mentally disturbed, the presumption would be
that he was sane.

Datuk Shankar urged Wee to allow Mr. Thayalan (counsel for Dato' Lingam) to question the witness, after which Wee could touch-up whatever areas necessary. Wee informed the Commission that his firm had written to the hospital, Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya (PPUM), which had also filed a police report as to the leaking of a medical report pertaining to the witness. Before tendering a letter by PPUM to the Commission, Wee quoted a segment that reads: "PPUM tidak pernah menerima sebarang permohonan rasmi dari mana-mana pihak untuik mendapat rekod perubatan tersebut." which Wee confirmed, upon Tan Sri Haidar's query, meant the report had been illegally obtained and that it showed the character and credibility of Dato' Lingam - doing everything to lie and to discredit this witness.

The Commission then adjourned for lunch at 12.44pm.

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The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Video Clip - Day 13 Session 2
Contributed by Richard Wee Thiam Seng;
Monday, 04 February 2008 08:22pm
. Two more witnesses for Lingam inquiry

KUALA LUMPUR: The afternoon session continued with Christopher Leong, counsel for the Malaysian Bar, bringing to the Commission's attention Section 12 of the Commissions Of Enquiry Act 1950 which states :-

(1) Any person who hinders or attempts to hinder any person from giving evidence before the Commissioners or by threats, deters or attempts to deter any person from giving such evidence, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years
(2) Any person who threatens, insults or injures any person for having given evidence, or on account of the evidence which he has given before the Commissioners, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
This was raised as a reaction to VK Lingam's counsel, Thayalan revelation at the end of the morning session that his client has a police reportagainst Dato' Shafee for fixing cases.

Leong informed the Commission that the Malaysian Bar feels that this was a threat against Dato' Shafee to stop him from providing testimony; and that threat fell within Section 12. Thayalan explained that he was merely raising this evidence to inform the Commission that he will use it against Dato' Shafee's character. Dato' Shafee, who was in the court room, sought to clarify the issue, by informing the Commission that the report that Thayalan is referring to may be the one involving him in cases involving corruption of the judiciary in the 1990's. He also felt that Thayalan, who did not have a copy of the said police report, nor seen it yet - should have done so first, before raising it in at the inquiry.
The Commission then felt that it was not time to decide on this yet, as they have yet to decide on Dato Shafee' application to testify - though the Commission felt that this evidence can be adduced towards the character of a witness. The inquiry then continued where the morning ended off, with questions posed by Dato' Lingam's counsel, Thayalan to the former's brother, Thirunama

Thayalan initiated his examination of the witness by posing some questions about Thirunama's family history. Thirunama disclosed that his sister had taken care of the siblings as, by the time he was in Standard 6, both his parents had passed away. When asked about his working experience up till 1995, Thirunama explained he was working at Tenaga Nasional Berhad till 1995. When queried about the reasons for his resignation in 1995, with particular reference to an alleged punch-up with a foreman, Thirunama denied this and insisted that he had resigned and he was not sacked.
Following this, Thayalan continued to ask if Thirunama had resigned to avoid
disciplinary action, to which Thirunama denied, and mentioned that he was asked by his brother not to go to work, and the brother had agreed to take care of things.

Thayalan then said apparently Thirunama was disowned by his family after he ran away to get married - an allegation that was denied by Thirunama When asked if his wife had lodged a police report against him for domestic violence, Thirunama confessed that he had hit his wife long ago, and that led to a report lodged against him. However, he disclosed that he felt
remorseful after that and sought forgiveness from his wife. He then informed the Commission, that to-date his wife and him are still living together.
Thayalan then examined the witness about his psychiatric treatment at Kuala
Lumpur General Hospital (KLGH). Thirunama then explained that he was forced by family to go visit Dr Tan Sri Datuk Mahadevan at KLGH to put up an act, by his brother, after he had lodged a report at the ACA office against Dato' Lingam in 1998. Thirunama clarified that he was instructed by Dato' Lingam to see Dr Mahadevan who had examined him.
Medical reports/notes were then tendered to the Commission at this stage. When further asked by Thayalan if he was "putting up an act" at the inquiry, since he had admitted to have done the same before - not 1 but before 3
psychiatrists - Thirunama denied this, and re-iterated that he was at the inquiry to offer the truth and that he was forced by his brother to meet the
Thayalan then brought Thirunama's attention to a solicitor's letter to him, from his wife, back in 1991, where she wanted to give notice of her
intention to divorce him on grounds of domestic violence. Thirunama informed the Commission that he is aware of the letter but said that the issue is long solved, as his wife and him are still married. Questions were then posed to Thirunama about his working relations with Dato' Lingam, and Thirunama disclosed that he had started working officially at Dato' Lingam's legal firm in 1996, though unofficially he was already
working there in 1995. Thayalan then suggested that he left Dato' Lingam's firm due to a fall out with the family, a suggestion that Thirunama denied.
Thirunama then enlightened the Commission that he had been doing odd jobs, particularly since he is a qualified electrician. Thayalan then turned to another issue, and posed questions about allowances from another brother, paid to Thirunama. Thirunama agreed that he received
some allowances since 2004, but that stopped last year. Thayalan then put it to Thirunama that around March 2007, Thirunama had instructed a lawyer,

Mano to demand money from Dato' Lingam after Thirunama had lodged a report against Dato' Lingam, an allegation that Thirunama strongly denied and explained that to his knowledge he did not demand any money at that time, and had instructed his lawyer one Mano to send some letters to, inter alia, the ACA and police complaining about Dato' Lingam's activities.

Questions were then posed about the house at SS1, Petaling Jaya which Dato' Lingam had shown to Tun Eusoff Chin. Thayalan put it to Thirunama that Thirunama's earlier testimony (in the morning) about the house was untrue. Thayalan also suggested that the 2 plots of land that Thirunama referred to in the morning, were for personal purchases by Thirunama and Dato' Lingam. Thirunama denied both suggestions.

Tun Eusoff's counsel's Mohd Fozi then started his line of questions. He asked Thirunama about the many police and ACA reports that he had made, and what was the outcome of the reports. Thirunama said he believed that there was no further investigation after his reports. Fozi then put it to Thirunama that he had appeared at the Commission because he was unhappy about the said outcome, to which Thirunama agreed.
Fozi posed a few queries to Thirunama of any corroborative evidence to support Thirunama's earlier tendered written testimony, to which Thirunama informed that he is the witness and he is telling the truth at the hearing. Fozi asked if Thirunama could remember the time and date of the visit to the bungalow house in SS1, PJ. and Thirunama recalled that it took place inSeptember or October 1995, around 6pm. When asked when Thirunama delivered the bags, cakes and bowls of soup to Tun Eusoff's home, Thirunama said he cannot remember all the dates.

Tun Eusoof's second counsel, Dato' Azman then took over to pose another set of questions. Dato Azman's line of questions revolved around a written medical note. When the medical note was tendered, Wee Choo Keong then rose to ask how a privileged document of his client, can fall into Tun Eusoff Chin's hands? Dato Azman then disclosed that Tun Eusoff got it from Dato' Lingam's sister, a revelation which drew gasp from the crowd. As things calmed down, the questions continued till around 4pm where Dato Azman posed questions about the medical report and Thirunama's allegations of his conduct when dealing with Dr Mahadevan.

Dato' Azman also re-visited Thirunama's resignation from TNB in 1995 and put it to him that he left to avoid disciplinary actions, of which Thirunama denied. Questions of Thirunama's meeting in the 1990s with Tommy Thomas and Dato' Shafee pertaining to his police and ACA reports were also raised, mostly hovering about the veracity of those meetings. Thirunama explained where and why he met the 2 gentlemen.

Finally, Pradeep Kumar, counsel for Tan Sri Vincent Tan asked Thirunama of his testimony in the morning about Tan Sri Vincent Tan's visit to Dato' Lingam's house in 1970's, and put it to Thirunama that Tan Sri Vincent Tan only met Thirunama during Deepavali. Thirunama reiterated the testimony, but disagreed that Tan Sri Vincent Tan only met Dato' Lingam during Deepavali.
Before the end of the hearing, Christopher Leong then informed the Commission that the Malaysian Bar will be handing a statutory declaration of a lawyer, relating to Tun Ahmad Fairuz's testimony. The statutory declaration was received by the Commission who will deliberate on it.
The proceedings then ended about
4pm and were adjourned to 2 pm tomorrow 5 February.

ABOVE: Loh Mui Fah (spotted on Day 13), the businessman had asked his son to dig up more forgotten Video Clips hidden in some CD or Drive, but so far no news

= == == = == = = = = Original Post Below, are earlier reports proided by Bernama which DO NOT have the details
Two more witnesses to testify for Lingam inquiry

Lingam tape inquiry Lawyer Shafee Abdullah and Lingam’s sister Lashimi may testify at the royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tapes following new developments and allegations. There is also athreat against Shafee; The decision by tomorrow, inquiry extended

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ABOVE & BELOW: The Jalan Duta High Courts where the RCI was held
February 04, 2008 14:12 PM

Man In Video Clip Is 100 Per Cent My Brother, Says
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- The man speaking on the telephone in a controversial video clip allegedly brokering judicial appointments "is 100 per cent my brother Datuk V.K. Lingam", Lingam's younger brother Thirunama Karasu told the inquiry Monday. Thirunama, 50, testified on the 13th day of the Royal Commission of Inquiry that he recognised that the speaker in the video clip was his brother from his body language, his movement and also from his voice.

He said Lingam talks very loudly and would get excited in his conversation.Lingam is also inclined to use the now infamous phrase "correct, correct, correct" in his conversation, said Thirunama. Thirunama, an electrician, said he had heard the phrase "correct, correct, correct" being uttered by Lingam many times when he was working for Lingam. Lingam had said in his testimony that the man in the video clip "looks like me, sounds like me". He said he had worked with Lingam, who is his eldest brother, unofficially in 1995 and officially in 1996 with salary. Thirunama also revealed that he had once answered a call on Lingam's handphone and the caller was former Chief Justice Tun Eusoff Chin. He told the inquiry that he had driven and fetched Lingam from Eusoff's house. Lingam had gone to Eusoff's house with files, he said. "I saw Lingam bowing saying `thank you my lord, thank you my lord'," said Thirunama, adding that at that time, Eusoff, Lingam and him were the only persons outside the entrance of Eusoff's house.

ABOVE & BELOW: Thirunama Karasu arriving in Court on the last Day of the RCI with his lawyer Wee Choo Keong

Thirunama said he had driven Lingam to Eusoff's house about seven to eight times. He also said he had gone to Eusoff's house on his own to deliver a cake from a cake house, a briefcase and three bowls of soup.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry was set up to determine among others the authenticity of the clip. Presiding the inquiry was a five-member panel headed by Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor. Other members of the panel are Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong, Datuk Mahadev Shankar, Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and Prof Emeritus Datuk Khoo Kay Khim.

The commission's terms of reference are:

* To ascertain the authenticity of the video clip;
* To enquire and identify the identity of the person in the video clip, to whom he was speaking to and the persons mentioned in the conversation;
* To enquire and ascertain the truth of the content of the conversation in the video clip;
* To determine whether there is any misconduct by the person or persons identified or mentioned in the video clip; and
* To recommend any appropriate action to be taken against the person or persons identified or mentioned in the video clip if the person or persons found to have committed any misconduct.

= == = = February 04, 2008 15:35 PM
No Apology From Anwar, Aliran Over Internet Remarks On Commission

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and non-governmental organisation Aliran have stated that they will not tender any apology to a royal commission of inquiry over their remarks about the panel made on the Internet. This was disclosed Monday by Datuk Mahadev Shankar, one of the five members of the commission holding an inquiry into the controversial video clip in which lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam was on the phone purportedly brokering judicial appointments. Mahadev said Anwar's lawyer M. Puravalen and Aliran president P. Ramakrishnan's lawyer C.V. Prabhakaran (BELOW, looks like him?) had informed the commission that their clients stood by their statements and that no apology would be made to the commission. He said the commission's attention was drawn to two articles on the Internet. The first was a statement by Ramakrishnan that Aliran was shocked and devastated that Anwar, PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa and PKR coordinator Sim Tze Tsin were not being called as witnesses in the inquiry even though they had relevant evidence, he said. The second article was a press statement by Anwar that the commission was being manipulated by an unseen hand, he added

= == = == = == == = == == = Feb 4, 2008
M'sia's top judge got expensive gifts from lawyer, inquiry hears

KUALA LUMPUR - A HIGH-PROFILE lawyer accused of manipulating judicial appointments gave expensive gifts to Malaysia's former top judge and offered to buy him a house, the lawyer's brother told a public inquiry on Monday. The government-ordered inquiry is investigating whether V. K. Lingam, a well known lawyer, used his influence with politicians to rig the appointment of senior judges - a claim that has severely embarrassed the judiciary. The other key figure in the investigation is Eusoff Chin, Malaysia's chief justice between 1994 and 2000, who is said to have been close to Lingam.
The scandal surfaced when opposition politicians leaked a video in September that showed Lingam allegedly speaking on the phone in 2001 with another former top judge, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, about the promotion of judges. Lingam's brother,
Thirunama Karasu, testified that he drove Lingam to Eusoff's home seven or eight times in 1995, possibly to discuss cases, and that he once personally delivered to Eusoff a handbag and wallet that Lingam bought from Italy. Thirunama also claimed he was with Lingam and Eusoff when they surveyed a house in a Kuala Lumpur suburb that Lingam planned to purchase for Eusoff in 1995. Eusoff declined the place because he wanted a bigger one, Thirunama said.

Thirunama's allegations were first made available to the inquiry in a written statement last week. Both Lingam and Eusoff have denied the accusations, with Lingam claiming his brother was mentally unstable and that their relationship broke down years ago. Thirunama said on Monday he 'wasn't delusional' and that he was '110 per cent sure I'm not mad'. Lingam and Eusoff have denied having an improper relationship, despite acknowledging they spent time together on a family vacation in New Zealand in 1994 after Eusoff became chief justice.

Lingam has also refused to confirm or deny whether he is the man in the leaked video, claiming he cannot recall having such a telephone conversation because he might have been drunk. He has denied brokering the appointment of judges.
In the video, filmed by a visitor to Lingam's home, a man who almost certainly is Lingam can be heard talking on his phone about his close ties with Eusoff and his plans to elevate Ahmad Fairuz to the chief's justice post with the help of a tycoon and a politician. Ahmad Fairuz, who has denied speaking to Lingam, was
Malaysia's No. 3 judge in 2001. He became chief justice in 2003 and retired last year. Thirunama insisted it was Lingam in the video.
'I can be 100 per cent sure it is my own brother,' Thirunama Karasu said. 'I can recognize him from his body language. He talks very loudly.'-- AP

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