DAY 14 – RCI - Haidar Refused to Recuse himself over Karpal’s disclosure that Haidar’s sister married Fairuz’s late brother; Anwar barred from RCI
Karpal makes shock application for Haidar's discharge
by R. Surenthira Kumar, the SUN
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 5, 2008): Lawyer Karpal Singh(ABOVE) made a surprise application today to have Royal Commission of Inquiry chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor discharge himself because of his relationship with former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim -- but his application that came so late in the inquiry's proceedings was shot down. Karpal Singh said Haidar’s sister was married to Ahmad Fairuz’s late brother, and that this relationship should have been disclosed at the outset. He described the non-disclosure as "unethical". In reply, Haidar said the relationship ended 30 years ago after his brother-in-law died and that his sister had since remarried.
Karpal Singh, however, argued that this did not end the relationship as there was still a link with the existence of a daughter from the union. Haidar stopped Karpal Singh’s onslaught by asking him to produce case authorities in support of his application, prompting counsel to read out three cases which touched on judges recusing themselves due to the existence of relationships in the case they were adjudicating. In other cases, the judges had declared at the start of hearings of such relationships.
He said Haidar should have been aware of these case authorities and it was not necessary for him to point them out. “Ahmad Fairuz is a very vital witness to the entire proceedings and there is a real likelihood of bias due to the relationship,” added Karpal Singh. Karpal Singh, S.N.Nair, Ram Karpal Singh, Sangeet Kaur Deo, Ranee Sreedharan and Nicholas Netto co-represented M. Puravalen for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and he also appeared on behalf of lawyer M. Manoharan who is under ISA detention.
Commission member Datuk Mahadev Shankar then cut in and asked Karpal Singh to read a passage from the decision of the court in one of the cases he cited. The decision stated that judges are not robots, as such the question of relationship, in one form or another, will arise in the course of judges hearing cases and lawyers appearing before them. Karpal Singh however said this is not a case of an ordinary relationship but of ties through blood, by way of the marriage. “There is more than suspicion aroused as a result of the relationship which has created a real likelihood of bias. Why was it not disclosed ...hidden away from the parties in the inquiry?” he asked.
Haidar cut short Karpal Singh’s submission and asked if anyone else wanted to ventilate. Malaysian Bar representative Robert Lazar sought an adjournment to discuss the application, which he said caught most of them by surprise. Ahmad Fairuz's lawyer, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, also said he had to seek instructions from his client. Mahadev said the relationship had been terminated 30 years ago through divine intervention and Karpal Singh’s application was only on the existence of the previous relationship.
He also told Kamarul Hisham, the former chief justice would not be able to add or substract to the issue, based on the present situation. He revealed that lawyers Azhar Azizan Harun and Haris Ibrahim, both whom previously represented the human rights NGOs, Aliran, Suhakam and Hakam, had met the Commission in chambers to raise the issue of the relationship.
After the break, Lazar told the commission they were taking Karpal Singh's stand and refreshed the commission’s memory that a similar application had been made previously to disqualify Haidar due to him being a trustee of the Perdana Leadership Foundation, in which Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the main figure. He said Haidar should have been dutiful to inform the inquiry participants of the disclosure at the beginning. “Now that the matter has surfaced, it would create doubts as to the degree of the relationship. Based on what we know at this stage, it is sufficient cause for the chairman to recuse himself,” added Lazar.
Kamarul Hisham said Ahmad Fairuz confirmed the relationship ended in 1973 after his brother’s death. He said the couple had a daughter from the marriage and the widow had since remarried. He said there was a danger of the evidence adduced to date being impeached if the application was allowed and it would raise questions on the legality of the whole proceedings. He said the issue of the relationship was too remote and tenacious for the application to be allowed.
Karpal Singh said it was surprising that the commission had not informed the proceedings about the meeting in chambers with the two lawyers. Puravalen then said the commission members had the opportunity to go through the case authorities when he made the application to disqualify Haidar and regretted that the parties in the proceedings were not informed about the discussion with the two lawyers. Haidar, in delivering the decision said he had mentioned the matter to members of the commission.
“In my honest view, the relationship ended 30 years ago. I was hardly in contact with Tun Ahmad Fairuz and his family other than when I was working on the bench. I’m clear in my conscience. I don’t see any valid reasons for me to recuse myself,” said Haidar.
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Commission removes Anwar's right to be represented
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 05, 2008): The Royal Commission of Inquiry into a controversial video clip ruled today that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has forfeited his right to participate in the proceedings, prompting all four of his lawyers to walk out of the hearing. Commissioner Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong announced the ruling after Anwar refused to apologise to the five-member commission and retract an article published online questioning the commission’s integrity. Shim said the article contained a serious allegation against the commission and that it was compelled to order the forfeiture of Anwar's right to participate in the proceedings. Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar said Anwar's lawyers could participate in the hearing but only as bystanders. He thanked them for their services. Lawyers M. Puravalen, Mohd Yusmadi Yusof, Oh Choong Ghe and Ravi Nekko then left the courtroom.
The commission had demanded an unqualified apology from Anwar and retraction of his article which carried a remark that the commission was being manipulated by an unseen hand. It had also demanded an unqualified apology from non-governmental organisation Aliran and retraction of a remark that it 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. Anwar and Aliran had stated through their lawyers that they would not tender any apology to the commission over their remarks. In another development, Internal Security Act detainee M. Manoharan applied to the Commission to rebut allegations by lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam that Manoharan was instructed by Lingam's younger brother to demand money from him (Lingam). Counsel Karpal Singh, who represented Manoharan, also a lawyer, told the inquiry that Manoharan would limit his testimony to Lingam's allegations that he (Manoharan) was instructed by V.K. Thirunama Karasu to demand money from Lingam.
Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor asked Karpal when Manoharan, who was Thirunama Karasu's lawyer, could be produced to testify if the inquiry allowed his application. Karpal told the inquiry that if Manoharan could not be present physically to give evidence as he was under ISA detention, his statutory declaration would suffice as it was accepted by the law under Section 17 of the ISA. Haidar, however, told Karpal Singh that the commission had no powers since the inquiry was not a proceeding in a court of law. He asked Karpal to sort out the matter with Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail through conducting officer Datuk Nordin Hassan. Haidar also ordered Karpal Singh to produce a witness' statement by Manoharan for the inquiry's perusal and to decide whether Manoharan's evidence was relevant to the inquiry. "The commission will look into how far the statement is relevant to the inquiry," he said. Manoharan, 46, along with four others, was detained under ISA on Dec 13 last year for allegedly orchestrating illegal gatherings here on Nov 25 last year and making seditious remarks against the government.
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ABOVE: The bungalow in Jalan SS1/38 in Petaling Jaya that lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam allegedly offered to former chief justice Tun Mohamed Eusoff Chin.
Eusoff and his wife were taken to the house and after viewing it, decided that they did not want it. Questioned by Malaysian Bar counsel Christopher Leong, Thirunama yesterday said he held the keys to the house in 1995.
Thirunama: It was Lingam's house. The house was not furnished then.
Leong: If he (Lingam) wanted to see the house, he would ask the keys from you?
Leong: In October 1995, did you accompany Lingam, Eusoff and his wife to view the house?
The witness said Lingam had no intention to rent or sell the house and it was not shown to anyone other than Eusoff and his wife.
Leong: Were Lingam's bodyguards, Ramli Ibrahim and Budiman Bahador, present at that time (when Eusoff and his wife visited the house)?
Thirunama: Yes, they had been with him since 1995 and 1996. I do not know who employed them.
Leong: Did Lingam tell you that he wanted to give the house to Eusoff?
Leong: Did he say for what purpose?
Thirunama: I do not not know why or for what purpose.
Leong: Did you inform the Anti-Corruption Agency of this in 1998.
Thirunama: I told them when it started investigations in March 1998.
Earlier, the witness told the inquiry that he took Lingam to Eusoff's house seven or eight times in 1996.
"I dropped Lingam at the house. He told me he had something confidential to talk about with Eusoff," he said. "On all occasions, Lingam ordered me to go back home and wait for his phone call."
Thirunama also told the inquiry that the visits to the former chief justice's house were at night.
Leong: Would Lingam bring his files along?
Thirunama: Yes. They were similar to the ones in his office.
Leong: Do you know the contents of the file ?
Thirunama: He told me once that this concerned the Ayer Molek versus Insas case.
The witness also told the inquiry of his visits to Eusoff's house to deliver a briefcase, handbag and wallet from his brother.He said there was a brown envelope in the briefcase containing several sheets of A4-sized papers.
"I do not know the contents of the documents."
On the purchase of a handphone for Eusoff, the witness said he had registered the number with Mutiara Tele-communications and stored the number in his black note book which he handed to the ACA in 1998.Hearing continues on Tuesday
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