Anwar, Aliran stand by ‘contempt’ remarks

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(Malaysiakini)PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and social reform movement Aliran have declined to withdraw statements said to be in contempt of the royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tape.

Lawyers
M Puravalen and CV Prabhakaran said at the outset of the inquiry this
morning that their clients stood by their statements which had
criticised the commission’s decision not to call Anwar and two other
party leaders as witnesses.


puravalenIn
yet another apparent attempt to get Anwar to appear before the panel,
Puravalen said the ex-deputy premier – who had first revealed the clip
last September – was willing to explain why he had made those remarks.

 However,
commissioner Mahadev Shankar told the lawyer: "We are not looking for
an explanation, we are looking (for) unqualified apology… Is he
willing to apologise?"

"He stands by his statement," Puravalen replied.

Prabhakaran
also attempted to argue that the Penang-based Aliran’s comments were
fair, although his attempt was cut short by Mahadev who again asked if
an apology would be tendered.

"Aliran does not wish to make an apology," said the lawyer.

lingam tape panel meeting 031007 mahadev shankarExplaining the commission’s stand, Mahadev said it takes exception to certain parts of Aliran’s statement.

"In
the fourth paragraph, there is a clear innuendo that the commissioners
who were part of the judiciary were trying to protect certain
individuals from being named for their own interest and the interest of
their friends," he said.

"In the 16th paragraph, there is a
suggestion that two of the commissioners improperly came to (former
chief justice) Tun Eusoff Chin’s aid when he found himself in a tight spot (during the testimony)."

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Commission’s decision pending

He
dismissed the allegations as "absolutely baseless and mischievous", as
the commission’s intention was to point out to the witness his rights
to legal representation with the nature of the questions posed to him.

The
commissioner also pointed out it was "inaccurate" to say the commission
hears certain evidence behind closed doors, as the session was merely
to decide whether certain proposed evidence should be admitted or
otherwise.

anwar ibrahim 02 060207On the statement by Anwar (photo),
who claimed there were "unseen hands" manipulating the inquiry, Mahadev
described it as "even more calculated to scandalise the commission".

He
reiterated that the commission sees no need at this juncture to call
the PKR trio as their evidence would only relate to the making of the
police report which resulted in the Anti-Corruption Agency
investigations.

"What is more, the maker of the video clip has
given evidence both as to how it was made and its contents. First-hand
evidence has also been elicited from the prime actors named in the
video clip and those who had viewed it," Mahadev said.

He ended
his explanation on the matter by saying: "At the very least, only an
unqualified apology and a public withdrawal of their offensive
statements will suffice."

Mahadev did not immediately state whether any action will be taken against the two parties during the proceedings.

However
in a statement later, he said the commission will "take time to
consider what further action we should take about this in all the
circumstances".


‘Narrow view’ under fire

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In
a related development, the Centre for Independent Journalism in a
statement today expressed its disappointment with the commission
"narrow’s view" on contempt which it said could potentially violate the
constitutional right to freedom of expression.

"The royal
commission has a duty that extends beyond its written mandate. Its duty
is to instill public faith in the judiciary. This can only be done in
an atmosphere of public debate and discussion on how the commission is
fulfilling its mandate," executive director V Gayathry said.

"Smothering dissent under the catch-all provision of ‘contempt of court’ will not quell public dissatisfaction or concern about the judiciary."

She called for the inquiry to be conducted in a "professional, transparent and transparently honest fashion".

Both Aliran and Anwar’s statements were published on the Internet, including online daily Malaysiakini last week.

The first article was a letter written by Aliran president P Ramakrishnan entitled ‘Lingam inquiry: We’re shocked and devastated’ and the second article was a Malaysiakini news report entitled ‘Unseen hand’ manipulating inquiry’ which was written based on Anwar’s press conference.

Mahadev then said the statements were in contempt of the commission and asked for amendments to be made by Aliran and Anwar.

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