Court throws out Dr Mahathir’s appeal over forex losses suit


(Bernama) – The Court of Appeal today dismissed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s appeal to reinstate his suit to invalidate a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) report into foreign exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in the 1990s.

Justice Ahmadi Asnawi, who chaired a three-man panel, said the findings of the RCI are not subject to challenge.

He added that Mahathir was challenging the findings of the RCI itself, as contained in the report.

Hence, he said, the Federal Court decision on the RCI into the controversial video clip case of former lawyer VK Lingam applies to Mahathir’s case.

The Federal Court had ruled in 2011 that the findings of the RCI could not be reviewed as the commissioners had only made findings and not a decision.

Ahmadi, who sat with justices Lau Bee Lan and Has Zanah Mehat, said Section 22 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 provides wide discretion to RCIs to regulate their own affairs and procedures, including the compilation of reports and regulations for presentation to the Agong.

“We are also of the view that it is not the role of this court to tell the RCI how to run its affairs because Section 22 of the act is very wide to govern the conduct,” he said.

The panel affirmed the Dec 17, 2018 High Court decision to strike out Mahathir’s originating summons in which he sought a declaration that the RCI report on BNM’s forex trading losses is invalid, incomplete and defective as it excluded the legal documents of witnesses, notes of proceedings and written and oral submissions.

In his suit filed in December 2017, Mahathir also sought a declaration that any report by the RCI set up under the Commissions of Enquiry Act would only be legal if it had all the written statements of the witnesses who testified during proceedings as well as the notes of proceedings and submissions.

He named the RCI chairman, Mohd Sidek Hassan, its members Kamaludin Md Said, Tajuddin Atan, Saw Choo Boon, K Pushpanathanan and Yusof Ismail, as well as former prime minister Najib Razak, Cabinet members and the government as defendants in the suit.

Mahathir’s counsel, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, earlier submitted that his client was not seeking to quash the findings of the RCI but wanted a declaration that the report would only be complete and valid if it contained the relevant documents.

However, senior federal counsel Mazlifah Ayob, appearing for the respondents, argued that if the RCI report was declared null and void, the RCI’s findings and recommendations would also be declared null and void.