PETALING JAYA, 18 Nov 2009: Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz‘s challenge to Karpal Singh to prosecute VK Lingam himself has come under fire by senior lawyers who have described his remarks as irresponsible.
Former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh said the remark by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department was “not responsible” because it showed a lack of will to get to the bottom of things.
Yeo “It’s like saying, ‘There are 600 unsolved murder cases. If anyone can solve it, I welcome you.’ How can ordinary citizens solve crimes? They would need powers which would allow them to investigate, question people and compel witnesses to come forward,” Yeo said today in a phone interview.
Yeo stressed that a thorough and independent investigation needed to be done before any prosecution could be initiated.
“It’s not enough to just say, ‘Go and prosecute’; this must be based on the results of a thorough investigation. If the investigation is not done properly, of course there can be no prosecution.”
Yeo explained that although the Royal Commission of Enquiry had concluded that there was misbehaviour on the part of several people, a separate investigation was still needed for criminal prosecution to take place.
He said it was therefore not responsible for Nazri to call for private individuals to prosecute Lingam since they would not have the power to investigate.
“If they (the government) want to relinquish responsibility for this particular matter to the private sector, then do it properly. First, they need to confer investigative powers on an independent team of persons, similar to the powers of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police. I’m sure there will be a team of persons who are willing to come forward and do it,” said Yeo.
Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan also refuted Nazri’s statement that Lingam had broken no laws.
Ragunath “There are two aspects to it. A lot of people have just looked at the first part to do with the phone call and fixing. The second part, which is more compelling, is the evidence that Lingam wrote a judgment on behalf of a judge. Everyone seems to be focusing on the phone call, but what about this second part?” he said to The Nut Graph.
“There are enough offences [to charge Lingam with],” said Ragunath. “There could have been cheating, conspiracy to abuse the justice system, fraud, possible bribery, abusing the justice system — there are a lot of Penal Code offences there.”
Contrary to Nazri’s assertions, Ragunath said Lingam could also be charged with regards to the phone call and fixing of judges.
“The Attorney-General can initiate contempt of court proceedings for him undermining the judicial system. Whether or not he was actually involved in fixing the appointment of judges, telling a client that he can do so is in contempt of the court.”
Yeo and Ragunath also said that the case could not be left as it is.
“It’s such a clear case,” said Yeo. “Ordinary Malaysians who have watched the video and heard what they heard can draw their own conclusions. It’s an insult to their intelligence to say that nothing can be done about it.”
See also: Why no action in Lingam case?
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