The Tempinis diaries

January 19, 2008

Mahathir’s Legacy: A Shameful Judiciary System

Filed under: malaysia — Tags: , — toru @ 4:00 pm

One of Mahathir’s shameful legacy is his attack of independent minded members of the judiciary.  He appointed obviously corrupt people like Eusoff Chin as the Chief Justice to helm the judiciary leaving confidence of the public in the courts in tatters.  The level of blatant corruption is mind boggling – as demonstrated by today’s cross examination of Eusoff Chin by Ranjit Singh during a committee of inquiry.  I never thought I would see the day when Eusoff Chin gets his come uppance.  Eusoff Chin is obviously lying (e.g. oh – I bumped into VK Lingam at the airport and he wanted to follow me).  The more he lied the more he dug a hole for himself.

 *****

Transcript of the cross-examination from the Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Eusoff Chin said it was normal for lawyers to want to be photographed with him when he was the Chief Justice. 

He said he always entertained such requests by senior lawyers as well as students whom he met on his overseas trips. 

According to a 2000 news article tendered yesterday, the former Chief Justice had also reportedly said: “When the man puts his hand on your shoulder, you can’t simply shove it aside.” 

At the start of his testimony, Eusoff, 73, told the court interpreter that he was a “pensioner.” 

DPP Datuk Nordin Hassan: Tun, you were the Chief Justice of Malaysia from September 1994 to December 2000? 

Eusoff: Correct. 

Nordin: Do you know a lawyer by the name of Datuk V.K. Lingam? 

 

Eusoff: I know him. 

Nordin: Since when? 

Eusoff: Exactly when I don’t know. Around 1990. 

Nordin: Please explain how you got to know him. 

Eusoff: At that time, I was a judge in Kuala Lumpur. He handled a case in my court. 

Nordin: Would you say you were close friends? 

Eusoff: We were ordinary acquaintances. It’s a matter of degree. 

Nordin: What about Tan Sri Vincent Tan? 

Eusoff: I don’t know him, although I have met him at gatherings, Hari Raya, ordinary functions. Somebody introduced lah, this is Vincent Tan.  

Nordin: Have you seen a video clip that featured a person said to be a lawyer brokering the appointment of judges? 

Eusoff: Yes, the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) showed me. 

Nordin: Can you identify the man in the video clip? 

Eusoff: At that time, no. It was not very clear. 

The 14-minute video clip was then shown in open court for the fourth time since the hearing started on Monday. 

Nordin: Can you identify the Indian man having the phone conversation? 

Eusoff: I can’t. It’s not clear. 

Nordin: What about the way he spoke and his voice? 

Eusoff: Sounds like Datuk Lingam. 

Nordin then read a portion of the video clip’s transcript relating to the appointment of judges. 

Nordin: Have you ever discussed with Lingam the appointment of five judges? 

Eusoff: No. 

Nordin: Did you send a memo to the PM? 

Eusoff: No. When was this recording made? 

Nordin: Dec 20, 2001. 

Eusoff: I’m out dah. No longer CJ (Chief Justice).  

Nordin: After your retirement, have you sent any memo to the PM on the appointment of judges? 

Eusoff: No. 

Nordin then read the portion of the transcript about the problems faced by Eusoff when he was in office.  

Nordin: Are these allegations against you true? 

Eusoff: I don’t understand what he was referring to. 

Nordin: So you don’t understand the meaning? 

Eusoff: No. He said “problem.” What “problem”? 

Nordin reads the following portion of the transcript: 

“One day, I went to Vincent Tan’s house, I fired him at night in the house. I said bloody hell if you don’t do this, who will do it? All these people, Tun Eusoff Chin, Datuk Ahmad Fairuz, Tan Sri Zainon all fought for us.” 

Eusoff: I don’t know what he was talking about. Apa benda (what was that)? 

Nordin reads the following portion of the transcript: 

“No. don’t worry the… the… Datuk, I know how much you suffered for Tun Eusoff Chin… and Tun said Datuk Ahmad Fairuz… hundred and ten percent loyalty.” 

Eusoff: I don’t understand what it means. 

Nordin reads the following portion of the transcript:  

“Chinese Man: Who is that? 

Indian Man: Dato Ahmad Fairuz. 

Chinese Man: Oh Ahmad Fairuz. 

Indian Man: I put him up there. You don’t tell this to anybody please. I cannot tell this to Manjit. 

Chinese Man: Ah. 

Indian Man: And he is Acting President Court of Appeal number two post. He is next Chief Justice. He always says I leave it to you. 

Chinese Man: I thought you were very close to Tun Eusoff Chin… Dato? 

Indian Man: He’s Eusoff Chin’s man. Eusoff Chin he’s already retired. But… Dzaiddin hates Eusoff Chin, you understand?” 

Nordin: Do you understand the statement? Is the statement about Tun Ahmad Fairuz being your man true? 

Eusoff: Not true. I don’t understand. 

Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar: Not true or don’t understand? 

Eusoff: Firstly, I don’t understand what he’s referring to. 

Nordin: You understand the part that went “Dzaiddin hates Eusoff Chin?” Do you know if this is true? 

Eusoff: Never. 

Nordin reads the following portion of the transcript:  

“Eusoff Chin in power, I can straight get Pom, Pom, Pom, Pom. But now Dzaiddin is there and … Dzaiddin is attacking our cases, that is why James Kumar is aligned to Dzaiddin. But Dzaiddin retiring 15th of September. He’s finished.” 

Nordin: Is it true you’re extremely close to Datuk V.K. Lingam? 

Eusoff: Not extremely close.  

Nordin: Do you understand the part about “Eusoff Chin, I can straight get Pom, Pom, Pom, Pom?”  

Eusoff: (laughs) I don’t know. 

Nordin: Were you involved in the appointment of Tun Ahmad Fairuz as President of the Court of Appeal and as the Chief Justice? 

Eusoff: No. 

Nordin: Have you ever met Datuk V.K. Lingam to discuss Tun Ahmad Fairuz’s appointment as President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Justice? 

Eusoff: Never. 

Nordin: Have you ever discussed with Tengku Adnan (Tengku Mansor) or Tan Sri Vincent Tan on Tun Ahmad Fairuz’s appointment as President of the Court of Appeal and as Chief Justice? 

Eusoff: No. 

Ranjit Singh (counsel for the Malaysian Bar): Was your relationship with Datuk V.K. Lingam anything other than that of a lawyer-judge relationship when you were a judge and Chief Justice? 

Eusoff: It was a normal lawyer-judge relationship. Nothing more. 

Ranjit Singh then tendered a newspaper article with the headline “Eusoff: I paid for my own holidays overseas.” 

Ranjit Singh reads the article: 

“Asked about the photo, Eusoff said it was taken after he coincidentally met Lingam while on holiday there. ‘I bumped into him (Lingam) there. As a Malaysian in a foreign country, I was happy to see a fellow countryman. I told him I was going to the zoo and he asked if he could tag along. I told him I was taking a bus there and he said he did not mind, so he came along. He also wanted to take pictures with me and I obliged,’ he said. He said the photo was a ‘posed picture’, adding: ‘When the man puts his hand on your shoulder, you can’t simply shove it aside.  

Ranjit Singh: Did you make these statements? 

Eusoff: I gave some press statements but I can’t remember. I bumped into him after breakfast. In fact, I met him earlier in Singapore. 

Ranjit Singh: You went to New Zealand on holiday with your family? Can you tell us exactly who went with you? 

Eusoff: My wife (Toh Puan) Rosaini (Mustaffa) and my children Zubaidah and Johan. 

Ranjit Singh: You first bumped into Datuk V.K. Lingam in Singapore in respect of your New Zealand holiday. Was anybody with him? 

Eusoff: I can’t remember. He must have been with his family. 

Ranjit Singh: I’m told with his wife and two children? You know he has a wife and two children? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit Singh: Where in Singapore did you bump into him? 

Eusoff: At the airport. 

Ranjit Singh: You then flew to New Zealand from Singapore? 

Eusoff: Auckland, I think. 

Ranjit Singh then produces a copy of a Holiday Tours travel itinerary detailing Eusoff’s holiday in New Zealand in December 1994. 

When the lawyer asked the former Chief Justice to confirm that this was indeed his itinerary, he replied: “I can’t remember. This came from the tour agent.”  

Ranjit Singh: Also stated in this itinerary are the names Rohani and Jeyanthi. Do you know who these people are? 

Eusoff: Rohani was my secretary (then). I do not know who Jeyanthi is. 

Ranjit: Tun, you said you bumped into him in Singapore and you flew to Auckland via NZ28 J at 17.55hrs. You flew on business class? 

Eusoff: I cannot recall. What it (referring to Eusoff’s itinerary for the December 1994 trip) says is there. 

Ranjit: You flew with Datuk V.K. Lingam from Singapore to Auckland on that flight on Dec 22?  

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Then there is a next flight from Auckland to Christchurch NZ1541 on Dec 26 J class, 15.15hrs. Did you take this flight? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Did you fly together with Datuk Lingam and his family? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: You will note that you landed in Auckland on Dec 22 or 23 and left Christchurch on Dec 26. You have two to three days there. Did you and your family spend the three days in Auckland with Datuk Lingam and his family? 

Eusoff: The thing is, he wanted to tag on and asked, “Can I come along?”, that sort of thing. 

Ranjit: You stayed in the same hotel as Datuk Lingam? 

Eusoff: In Auckland, there is only one good hotel. 

Ranjit: Which hotel is that? 

Eusoff: I can’t remember. 

Ranjit: And Datuk Lingam stayed in the same hotel? 

Eusoff: Can’t remember. 

Ranjit: Did Datuk Lingam tag along for the entire trip in Auckland? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Did Tun take an extra trip out of this itinerary? 

Eusoff: This is what was given. What actually took place there, I can’t remember. 

Ranjit: On Dec 30, 7am, business class, did your family fly to Auckland from Christchurch with Datuk Lingam and his family? 

Eusoff: Yes, I think so. 

Ranjit: Auckland to Singapore flight NZ73, Dec 30, business class, 9.55am. Do you recall taking this flight back? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Did Datuk Lingam and his family fly back on this flight too? 

Eusoff: Maybe. Yes. 

Ranjit: Do you recall flying back to Singapore with Datuk Lingam and his family? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Singapore-KL flight MH616, Dec 30, first class. Did you take this flight with your family? 

Eusoff: Yes. 

Ranjit: Do you recall whether Datuk Lingam and his family took the same flight? 

Eusoff: Can’t remember. 

Ranjit: From KL to Singapore via flight MH 611, that was the start of the trip when you allegedly bumped into Datuk Lingam and his family? 

Eusoff: No. 

Ranjit: Sure? 

Eusoff: Because when we boarded, I didn’t see them. 

Ranjit: All the flights taken by you and your family and that of Datuk Lingam and his family appeared to match. Even the hotel you stayed in Auckland. You stayed about three to four days in Christchurch. After that was there another flight? 

Eusoff: I can’t remember. 

Ranjit: He was stalking you throughout? He got hold of your itinerary without your knowledge so that he can be close to you? 

Eusoff: Maybe. I can’t say what he’s thinking. I went to New Zealand because (retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri) Edgar Joseph (Jr) told me to go to New Zealand. It’s a nice place to go and see. I told my secretary to get a tour agent to plan for a week or so. How he wants to tag along and follow my itinerary I can’t control. 

Ranjit: Christchurch to Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand. That’s a place famous for its bungee jumping. I am told. Discovery (Channel)! How did Tun travel from Christchurch to Queenstown? Was it by car, road, and not a flight? 

Eusoff: Yes, I took a van. One New Zealander drove the van. Datuk V.K. lingam and his family went along. He wanted to pay half of the costs. 

Ranjit: You bumped into him accidentally. He followed you everywhere and wanted to share a van to Queenstown. In Malaysia, you were a judge and him, a lawyer. Wouldn’t Tun say “This is enough. I would not share a van with you. There must be a limit.” Why did you allow him to follow you to Queenstown. 

Eusoff: You see, the van can accommodate nine people. 

Ranjit: Was there a person by the name of Tan Chong Paw in the van? 

Eusoff: I cannot remember. 

Ranjit: When you went to Queenstown, do you remember, where you stayed? 

Eusoff: Cannot remember. 

Ranjit: How did you travel from Queenstown back to Christchurch? 

Eusoff: I flew back with my family together with Datuk V.K. Lingam and his family. 

Ranjit: He followed you again? 

Eusoff: Yeah, he followed. 

Ranjit: Can you explain how Datuk Lingam managed to book the same flights as yours to travel from Queenstown back to Christchurch? 

Eusoff: He went to an agent there and booked the tickets. I said I have to go back and do my work. He wanted to book the tickets. I can’t stop him. 

(Looking at Ranjit) You also can come if you went there. I can’t stop you. 

Ranjit: I will never travel with Tun Eusoff Chin. 

Eusoff: You are not out to hammer me, I hope. 

Ranjit: We are not hammering you. We are here in this Royal Commission of Inquiry to establish the truth! 

At this juncture, Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar said, “Ranjit, please leave out your comments.” 

Ranjit: How many photographs were taken between the bus and zoo events? 

Eusoff: The pictures were taken for the family album. If he wants to take, what can I do? Everybody – lawyers, students – wants to take photo with me. What can I do? I can’t stop them. 

There were times when Lingam insisted on taking photographs with me. 

Ranjit: How many photographs? 

Eusoff: I brought a camera, he also brought a camera. I can’t remember how many photographs altogether. We just see and snap, snap. 

Ranjit: If one bumps into somebody else accidentally, like Datuk Lingam and Tun, one will assume that after one or two photos, Datuk Lingam would have moved on with his own itinerary? How many photos were taken? 

Eusoff: A few. We don’t count. 

Ranjit: Approximately? 

Eusoff: Can’t remember. 

Ranjit: One or two, five to 10, 31 or 32, 46, 47? 

Eusoff: Five to 10. 

Ranjit: Sure? 

Eusoff: About that. 

Ranjit (Taking out a big envelope and pulling out a big stack of photographs): Tun, I’m going to show you a series of photographs. (Refers to a photograph showing Eusoff and his wife posing with Lingam and his wife in holiday attire, in front of a building with the words ‘Skyline Gondola’ written on it.) Are you able to identify from left to right the people in the photograph? 

Eusoff: My wife, myself, Datuk V.K. Lingam and his wife. 

Ranjit: The building behind you? It reads Skyline Gondola? 

At this juncture, leading officer DPP Datuk Nordin Hassan objected to the line of questioning saying that it had gone outside the ambit of the terms of reference of the inquiry. 

Mahadev: But the Commission of Inquiry is very much open, isn’t it? 

Nordin: Not on closeness per se. It shouldn’t be addressed. 

Mahadev: One of the terms of reference is to determine whether a misconduct had been committed by the person or persons identified or mentioned in the video clip. 

Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor: Is it necessary to ask these questions? 

M. Puravalen (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer): Whenever somebody said the scope of this inquiry is limited to misbehaviour in relation to the appointment of judges, where is it stated that it is limited to this? How did this limitation creep into this inquiry? 

Haidar: The questions should be confined to the terms of reference of this inquiry. 

Puravalen: Can we have a ruling on this? 

Mahadev: No such ruling is to be made. Let Ranjit ask his questions first. 

Haidar: The DPP is trying to say whether Ranjit should continue. Let Ranjit respond first. 

Tan Sri Steve Shim: At this stage of questioning, certain things have been brought about. I’m not sure whether Tun (Eusoff) wants to say something. I notice he is not represented. Maybe we need to ask if he needs time to get legal representation in these proceedings. 

Eusoff: Initially, I trust the wisdom of the member (of the Commission) to look into what is admissible or inadmissible. 

Haidar: Maybe Tun would want to consider getting legal representation to guide the commission.  

Eusoff: Give me some time. All these (evidence adduced so far) are irrelevant. Initially, I did not take counsel because we have five wise people up there. I think I need to get a counsel now. 

Haidar: Today is Friday, we need to go off early. We propose that there be no sitting in the afternoon. We will adjourn to Monday. 

Eusoff: I cannot appoint a counsel during the weekend. In the weekend, lawyers will not be in the office. 

Haidar: Then we proceed with other witnesses on Monday. We will let you know, Tun, the next day for your testimony.

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