With the three-man special panel inquiry into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape holding its first meeting today, two questions uppermost in the minds of Malaysians who want to be able to be proud again about the Malaysian judiciary and system of justice after 19 years of being the laughing stock of the world are:
- Will the Haidar inquiry drag its feet until after next month when the Chief Justice Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim would have retired from the highest judicial office of the land, justifying the stance that the whole issue had become quite academic although Ahmad Fairuz was clearly the other party in the Lingam Tape despite the Chief Justice’s unorthodox “denial” through the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz; and
- Will the Haidar Inquiry end up as the biggest sham of all inquiries in five decades of Malaysian nation-building, furnishing excuse for inaction by Cabinet because there is no concrete proof either way of its being authentic or otherwise?
Nazri said on Monday that “the result of the Haidar investigation will determine the next course of action, which will be decided by the cabinet”.
This is a very curious statement as the establishment of the Haidar panel was not decided by the Cabinet in the first place.
This is the chronology of events:
- Sept. 19, 2007 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made public eight minutes of a purported 12-minute video recording of the Lingam Tape.
- Sept. 20 – Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice president Sivarasa Rasiah lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in Putrajaya on the Lingam Tape.
- Sept. 23 — The Malaysian Bar in an emergency meeting decided on a “Walk for Justice” from the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Cabinet Day on Wednesday 26th Sept to present a memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape and the allegations of judicial impropriety over the years.
- Sept. 25 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the formation of the Haidar panel, a day before the Cabinet’s Wednesday meeting and the “March for Justice” by 2,000 lawyers.
Has Nazri inadvertently revealed the “gameplan” that while the Cabinet was completely ignored and the views of Ministers disregarded on the setting up of the Haidar Panel, the Cabinet would be dragged in and fully implicated for any decision concerning any “cover-up” of the allegations of the Lingam Tape at the conclusion of the Haidar inquiry?
The role of the ACA, which had been directed by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to assist the Haidar Panel, is most anomalous which completely undermines its authority, independence, credibility and legitimacy.
Parliament never intended the ACA to be subservient to any quarter in its statutory mission to eradicate corruption — not to the Haidar panel or even the Attorney-General.
The Attorney-General has the final discretionary powers to decide whether to initiate prosecution — which is a great weakness in the anti-corruption law — but the AG has no powers to direct the ACA to suppress any form of anti-corruption investigation. The ACA cannot have any credibility if it has to take orders from the ACA on its anti-corruption investigations.
Although the government has set up the Haidar panel to inquire into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape, this does not preclude the ACA from carrying out its own investigations especially as an official report had been lodged by Sivarasa with the ACA on the Lingam Tape.
The ACA can assist the Haidar Inquiry but it cannot be subservient to the Haidar Inquiry.
Neither the Attorney-General nor the Haidar Inquiry can usurp the powers and duties of the ACA or the ACA be estopped from carrying out its own investigations into the Lingam Tape with regard to judicial corruption.
The Haidar Inquiry, with its ridiculously narrow term of reference, restricted investigatory powers and the unsuitability of Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor as its chairman is a farce and should be disbanded without wasting any more time or public funds. Instead a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape and rot in the system of justice concerning the ravages and destruction of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary in the past 19 years must forthwith be established without any delay.