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Thursday June 12, 2008

‘No’ to Royal Commission on allegations by judge

PUTRAJAYA: There is no need to set up another Royal Commission of Inquiry for the latest allegation levelled by a high court judge against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said this was because the Government had decided to reform the judiciary.

Tak habis-habis dengan cerita ini (The matter seems to be dragging on). I don’t see a reason for another commission. We are going to implement the reforms,” he told reporters at his office yesterday.

The Prime Minister was asked to comment on a statement by High Court judge Justice Ian Chin who claimed that Dr Mahathir had threatened, during a Judges Conference on April 24, 1997, to remove judges by referring them to a tribunal.

He alleged that fellow judge Muhammad Kamil Awang had told him of receiving a call from the then Chief Justice asking him to dismiss an election petition that he was to preside over in Kota Kinabalu.

Justice Chin, who is currently the Sibu High Court judge, had unsuccessfully stood for a parliamentary and later a state seat in Sabah in the 1980s under the Barisan Nasional banner.

At another press conference, de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said initiating an investigation or a commission would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“What is important is for us to move forward and take steps to restore the public’s confidence in our Judiciary, and for these allegations not to recur,” he said.

He said the latest revelation was not only regrettable but also a bad reflection on the country and its judiciary system.

“I can’t say that I was surprised by the latest allegation, as I have heard so many stories in the past. This is just one of them,” he said.

“This is the first time I have heard about boot camps for judges. I have no reason to doubt that the allegations are not true, unless there are people who say otherwise.”

Zaid also said that a proposed amendment that would revert Article 121 (1) of the Federal Constitution to its original form would be tabled in the next meeting of Parliament.

The original provision accorded judicial power to the High Courts of Malaya and Borneo, which according to him was a principle affirming the separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.

On the progress of investigations against Dr Mahathir as recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the V.K. Lingam video clip, Zaid said it would take some time.

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