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Cabinet will only confirm its utter irrelevance if Ministers are not prepared to discuss and take decision on Royal Commission of Inquiry into Lingam Tape and rot of judiciary of past 19 years
(Parliament, Tuesday) : Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has admitted that he was wrong and that there is no Witness Protection Act.
He claimed that what he meant was that whistleblowers were already protected under various laws which offered some protection to witnesses, like the Anti-Corruption Act, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence of Child Witness Act and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
It is clearly a very lame excuse. But it has not released Nazri from the onus of justifying two outrageous statements he made on Sunday:
Firstly, his ‘No Source, No Case” assertion – that if the maker or makers of the Lingam Tape “don’t co-operate, then the authenticity of the Lingam Tape cannot be determined and this will prevent the (Haider) Panel from discharging its responsibility. As such, it is important for them to reveal the source, failing which; we can only conclude that they are lying.”
Secondly, “The witness will be accorded full protection by the government…a new identity, a new location, even a new face. So what is there to be afraid of?”
Firstly, what right has he to decide how the Haider Panel Inquiry is to operate? Or has the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak passed the buck of the Haidar Panel Inquiry as too hot a potato to Nazri as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department?
An inquiry into the Lingam Tape with its serious allegations of the perversion of the course of justice concerning the fixing of judicial appointments and fixing of court decisions should not be placed under the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Department, whether Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Minister, but completely independent answerable only to the Yang di Pertuan Agong or Parliament.
Secondly, Nazri’s clarification has not explained how the maker or makers of the Lingam Tape will be fully protected when there is no official declaration by the Attorney-General granting full immunity from any prosecution or adverse consequences for fully co-operating with the Haider Panel.
The maker or makers of the Lingam Tape do not need any new identity, new location or even new faces, for they have no use of them as what they need is protection from victimization or persecution from quarters involving the official authorities. This is why what they need is full immunity from any prosecution or any adverse consequences because of their full co-operation in disclosing their identities.
The ball is firmly in the court of the Cabinet tomorrow.
The Cabinet will only confirm its utter irrelevance if Ministers are not prepared to discuss and take a decision on a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape and the rot of the judiciary in the past 19 years as the first important step to restore national and international confidence in the independence, integrity and meritocracy of the judiciary.