Media Conference Statement by
Lim Kit Siang at Kota Kinabalu Airport on Friday, 18th January 2008 at 1
Mahathir was a poor witness at the RCI on Lingam video tape, evasive,
uncharacteristically forgetful and downright wrong and irresponsible in
pleading prerogative to refuse to answer to critical questions about
judicial independence and integrity
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was a poor witness
yesterday at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam videotape
He was evasive, uncharacteristically forgetful as to be prone to sudden
bouts of amnesia on certain crucial events which Mahathir had never been
known to suffer from and broke his word that he would respond to all
questions to the best of his ability.
Most of the time, Mahathir was evading questions to the best of his
ability, including his resort to “prerogative” to refuse to answer
questions for the reasons why he rejected the recommendation of the then
Chief Justice Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah in 2002 for the appointment of the
late Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad as Chief Judge of Malaya, favouring
instead of Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
Mahathir was downright wrong and irresponsible in pleading prerogative
to refuse to answer questions why the recommendation of a Chief Justice
who was most familiar with the best qualities of his brother judges was
While the prerogative of the Prime Minister under the Constitution to
decide on who should be recommended for appointment to the various high
judicial offices in the country is not challenged or doubted, it is
wrong to equate of prerogative of a Prime Minister in a democratic
system of government with the royal prerogative of divine rule.
This is because the prerogative of a Prime Minister in an elected system
of government, while assuring the Prime Minister as having the final say
in the decision-making, does not give the Prime Minister the immunity to
disregard accountability, transparency and integrity in the exercise of
This is my second disappointment with the Royal Commission of Inquiry
into the Lingam Tape scandal. Two days ago, I asked why the Royal
Commission of Inquiry had not subpoenaed V. K. Lingam to be the first
witness to ascertain from him whether he conceded the authenticity of
the 14-minute tape, especially as he has authorized his lawyer to say
that the person in the tape looked and sounded like him.
Why was Lingam allowed to run the Royal Commission of Inquiry around in
circles on the authenticity of the tape when this should be the first
issue to be disposed off, with Lingam in the witness box, one way or
My second disappointment is that the Royal Commission of Inquiry
yesterday allowed the former Prime Minister to get away so easily, when
Mahathir should have been held to proper responsibility and
accountability for a dark chapter in the nation’s judicial history.
Many Malaysians get the impression that the Royal Commission of Inquiry
members treated Mahathir with “kid’s gloves” as they were in awe and
even in some fear of the longest-serving Prime Minister in the country.
The proceedings of the first four days of the Royal Commission of
Inquiry do not inspire confidence that it could play a seminal role to
restore national and international confidence in the independence,
integrity and quality of the Malaysian judiciary.
Kit Siang, Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman