Following is an article adapted from The Star Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):
KUALA LUMPUR: The government will consider the need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) following the explosive affidavit filed by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer alleging judicial misconduct.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would study the proposal to set up an RCI.
TTF: First, when Mahathir says an RCI may be called, an RCI will never be called.
The fact that he tells you an RCI will be called into a scandal that could expose his wrongdoing means something is cooking.
The thing is, Mahathir has this penchant for promising you anything once he knows your time is up.
And I can tell you for a fact that the DAP’s stint in government will come to a dreary end very soon once the Prime Minister completes negotiations with key opposition MPs.
When that happens, Sangeet Kaur Deo – daughter of the late lawyer Karpal Singh – will learn the hard way that Mahathir never had any regards whatsoever for our judiciary and never will.
Sangeet forgets, that this is the man who dodged an RCI into the eighties BMF scandal by lying to newsmen that the matter could not be investigated locally as “BMF was registered in Hong Kong, not Malaysia.”
Truth is, Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) was set up in 1974 as a subsidiary of BBMB and started operating in Hong Kong in 1977.
On the 14th of November 2018, I wrote:
In 1980, Bank Bumiputera Malaysia Bhd (BBMB) was receiving RM50 million a month from Petronas as part of an agreement to stock the bank’s coffers. To facilitate offshore transactions, the bank undertook to establish Bumiputera Malaysia Finance (BMF) in Hong Kong before channelling parts of the RM50 million to several intermediary concerns.
Sometime that year, the (then) Minister of Finance, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, got the then chairman of BMF, the late Lorrain Esme Osman, to approve borrowings worth USD292 million to a Hong Kong based entity. The money was channeled in four tranches between the 19thof December 1979 and the 25th of June 1980.
It was soon discovered that the then owner of UMBC, Chang Ming, had facilitated the transfer of yet another USD50 million from UMBC to a BBMB subsidiary in Bahrain. In the years that followed, both BBMB and BMF approved a series of loans to the tune of RM2.5 billion to a Hong Kong registered entity to facilitate investment into the territory’s booming property market. However, in 1983, that entity, the Carrian Group, went bust after the property bubble burst and left both BBMB and BMF unable to recover the loans.
A Committee of Inquiry was quickly called into the affair and discovered multiple violations in banking protocols. Not only did BBMB and BMF fail to make certain entries into their books, many transactions were not in sync and pointed to elements of fraud. But the biggest elephant in the room was the murder of senior BBMB auditor Jalil Ibrahim, who, according to the information I have, unearthed enough evidence to end the career of a minister and several other government officials.
An RCI into the scandal would have risked disclosure of Mahathir’s role in the whole affair and the true identity of the man who ordered Jalil’s murder, an individual from the Ministry of Finance (something that will follow me to my grave).
To prevent disclosure, Mahathir told Cabinet that because BMF was registered in Hong Kong, a Committee of Inquiry would be more appropriate than an RCI.
Truth is, he preferred an NCI over an RCI because an NCI lacks jurisdiction to subpoena persons or confidential documents and does not grant legal immunity to investigators against possible cases of defamation.
He then got the late Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin Zakaria to lead the committee.
Mahathir believed that Noordin would never reveal what was not meant to be revealed as the latter was known to be an overly cautious man.
But not only did the Auditor-General dig as deep as he could into the scandal, he insisted that the NCI report be made public “as the people have the right to know.”
When Mahathir refused to entertain the idea, Noordin made a very public plea for disclosure by insisting that the Prime Minister made available all of the committee’s findings even if it brought shame to the GoM.
The very next day, Mahathir said this:
“If damage is done to the credibility or credit-worthiness of BBMB”, as a result of publishing the report, “the bank will be fully justified in suing you for damages.”
But not only did Noordin agree to take full responsibility, so did one other NCI member, a lawyer by the name of Chooi Mun Sou.
Seeing no alternative, Mahathir quickly got his men to attach a RM250 price tag to the report before agreeing to make it public. Now, imagine getting someone to purchase a copy of the RCI report into the Nineties Forex Scandal at RM1,250, which roughly is what the NCI report would have been worth today.
Back then, the average Malaysian would likely have found the price too hefty and would probably have given the report a miss.
Still, just to be sure nobody would find a copy of it anywhere, Daim quickly instructed his men to snap up most copies almost as soon as they were published.
To appease members of public, Mahathir got the GoM to release a ‘white paper’ that was so scant on details, Aliran Monthly insisted that it was a “white wash” and not the white paper.
But according to Mahathir, the release was proof that he had done no wrong and that the GoM was sincere in getting to the bottom of things.
So Sangeet had better stop dreaming about getting to the bottom of the alleged judicial scam and start warming up to the idea that her goose will get cooked once the time is right.
Rest of NST article:
“However, we don’t really run down the judiciary openly,” he told a press conference after chairing Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s supreme council meeting here Friday (Feb 15).
The Prime Minister said he was currently not in a position to comment further.
On Thursday (Feb 14), Hamid made shocking claims in court papers, alleging scams between certain top judges and private litigants to cheat the government.
The revelation was contained in his 65-page affidavit filed in support of an application by Sangeet Kaur Deo, daughter of the late lawyer Karpal Singh, to declare that the Chief Justice had failed to defend the integrity of the judiciary in two cases.
Hamid said the scams were carried out by nominees of politicians getting into contracts with the government.
Once the government pulled out of a deal, the private parties would take the government to court to claim compensation.
He alleged that these private parties created contracts with the government to defraud public funds, and the apex court was perceived to be sympathetic to them.
Earlier Friday, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said it has collected evidence of interference with subordinate court judges in politically sensitive issues.
The group said this includes an incident where a top judge interfered with a high profile “political” prosecution at the Shah Alam Sessions Court during the Barisan Nasional administration.
“We believe this top judge may be the same ‘ARLC’ referred to by Hamid (in his affidavit). We are prepared to provide all information to an RCI,” the group said in a statement calling for an RCI.
The National Patriots Association (Patriot) also called for an RCI be formed to look into Hamid’s allegations, as did many Malaysians who took to social media.
If an RCI is formed, this would be the second one looking into the judiciary.
In 2007, an RCI was formed to look into a video recording, dating back to 2001, showing lawyer V.K. Lingam discussing the appointment of judges with former Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim.
In the recording, Lingam could be heard boasting that he could get key judicial appointments made with the help of Dr Mahathir, who was also prime minister at the time.
The RCI also questioned Dr Mahathir, but he denied any knowledge of the matter, claiming he could not remember more than a dozen times during his testimony.