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Jan 17, 2008


Well, it puzzles me that if security is tight, how can the lawyer on the phone mention a fact that was confidential? - Mahadev
Questions over how secret info was leaked out
By : Anis Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR: If judicial appointments are kept secret by those in the Prime Minister's Department, how did a lawyer come to know about them?
This question was posed by Datuk Mahadev Shankar, a member of the Royal Commission of Inquiry at its hearing yesterday.

Former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman had testified earlier that former chief justice Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah had received a letter dated Dec 5, 2001 approving the nomination of three individuals as High Court judges.

"The three were secretary-general Datuk Heliliah Mohd Yusof, judicial commissioners Datuk Ramly Ali and Datuk Ahmad Maarop, while two lawyers who had also been recommended, Dr Andrew Peng Hui and Zainuddin Ismail, were rejected," he said, replying to inquiry officer Datuk Nordin Hassan.

Yesterday was day three of the hearing into the 14-minute clip featuring prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam allegedly discussing judicial appointments with former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
Mahadev pointed out that only those privy to the letter, marked Rahsia (secret), would have known about the two rejections.

Mahadev: Based on the video clip we are concerned with, allegedly recorded on Dec 20, 2001, it was already known by then that Chew and Zainuddin had been rejected. How is that possible?

Samsudin: I honestly do not know. As far as I'm concerned, my interaction on this matter is only with the former prime minister.

Mahadev: But the conversation suggests that the person talking on the phone possessed confidential information.

Samsudin: We guard our information very closely on the issue of judicial appointments and promotions. Our security is very tight.

Mahadev: Well, it puzzles me that if security is tight, how can the lawyer on the phone mention a fact that was confidential?

Samsudin: This is puzzling to me as well.

Mahadev: If he had known this, he might know a lot more. How is that possible?

Samsudin: I cannot speculate. I don't even know this person.

The letter dated Dec 5, 2001 is consistent with assertions that Lingam made in the 14-minute clip where he is seen mentioning that Chew and Zainuddin had been rejected.

Samsudin testified that the letter was signed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in response to Dzaiddin's letter dated Oct 2, 2001 recommending Heliliah, Ramly, Ahmad, Chew and Zainuddin as High Court judges.

At this point, commission member Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong asked Samsudin: "Tun Dzaiddin had recommended five people as judges but Dr Mahathir had only approved three? Out of curiosity, would you know why the two were rejected?"

"When (Dr Mahathir) made this decision, these names were just dropped," Samsudin replied.

Shim asked again: "You don't know the reasons?"

"I don't know the reasons, sir. There were none given," Samsudin said.

During Samsudin's testimony, Nordin tendered 30 exhibits comprising letters and memoranda showing the paper trail of Ahmad Fairuz's various appointments.

The documents include Dzaiddin's letters to Dr Mahathir recommending Ahmad Fairuz for the posts of chief judge of Malaya and president of the Court of Appeal, memoranda from the Prime Minister's Office to the Conference of Rulers and the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal for the purposes of approving the appointments.

Samsudin also testified that his recommendations had not been influenced by third parties.


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