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Jan 17, 2008

‘Top secret’ letters released

Malaysiakini - A series of letters between former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and ex-Chief Justice Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah between October 2001 and January 2002 gave an insight as to how judges were appointed.These highly confidential letters, which were declassified and released to the royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tape yesterday, showed a glimpse of how Mahathir can decide who to appoint as a judge and who to discard.In one such letter, Mahathir did not explain why he dropped two candidates for the High Court positions in 2001 despite the names being forwarded twice to him.

Former chief secretary to the government Samsudin Osman, who testified before the inquiry yesterday and was privy to the letters, had confirmed the letters and their contents.

The inquiry was told yesterday that in one letter dated Oct 2, 2001, Mohamed Dzaiddin had recommended five names to Mahathir to be appointed to the High Court.

The five were the then solicitor-general Heliliah Yusof, judicial commissioners Ramly Ali and Ahmad Maarop, and senior lawyers Andrew Chew and Zainudin Ismail.

Vacancies not filled

However in a reply to Mohamed Dzaiddin on Dec 5, 2001, Mahathir had only agreed to the recommendations of Heliliah, Ramly and Ahmad.

“Besides that, I would like to recommend two out of the five serving judicial commissioners below to be appointed as High Court judges,” Mahathir wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Malaysiakini. (See letter here)

Mahathir’s recommendation consisted of Zakaria Sam, Su Geok Yam, Sulaiman Daud, Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad and VT Singam.

Subsequently on Jan 11, 2002, the ex-CJ responded to Mahathir’s request by saying he agreed with the appointments of Sulaiman and Singam, after having discussed with the chief judges of Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak. More...


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