Call for witnesses by commission on judge-fixing video

THE special commission into a controversial video clip that purportedly shows a senior lawyer brokering the appointment of judges will begin calling witnesses from next month to help in its inquiry.

The chairman of the government-appointed Royal Commission of Inquiry, Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, said a list of witnesses would be put forward by deputy heads of prosecution (DPPs) from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

'The DPPs will assist the commission in carrying out its tasks and have been given till the end of the month to come up with a list of witnesses,' Tan Sri Haidar, a former judge, said after the first meeting with the four other commissioners yesterday.

The other members of the commission are former judges Steve Shim Lip Kiong and Mahadev Shankar, former solicitor-general Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and a commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Professor Khoo Kay Kim.

The video, first made public in September, shows a man said to be lawyer V.K. Lingam in a telephone conversation allegedly brokering the appointment of judges. Datuk Lingam denies the claims, noting the Anti-Corruption Agency had cleared him of all the charges in 1998.

The commission was formed to ascertain the authenticity of the video clip, identify the speaker, the person he was speaking to, and the people mentioned in the conversation.

It must also ascertain the truth of the content of the conversation, determine whether any person identified or mentioned in the clip has committed any misbehaviour as well as recommend appropriate action against them.

Tan Sri Haidar said the commission has agreed in principle that inquiries would be heard in open court, but cautioned that there may be instances where there would be closed-door session.

He said March 11 was the last day for the commission to hand in its conclusions to the government.