Video experts consulted by Malaysiakini said that the footage could NOT have been doctored and was likely to be shot candidly using a mobile phone or similar devices.
The inference from the discussion was that “key players” should be nominated for judicial appointments in order to hear cases and deliver judgments accordingly.
At that time of the phone conversation, Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah was chief justice. Appointed in 2000, he was seen as a fresh break from his two previous predecessors - Mohd Eusoff Chin (1994-2000) and Abdul Hamid Omar (1988-1994).
Dzaiddin was to retire in 2003, and the video showed Lingam expressing concerned that the outgoing CJ was moving his ‘men’ into top judiciary posts.
The conversation revolved around the urgent need to get Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, then chief judge of Malaya - the judiciary’s No 3 - appointed as Court of Appeal president (No 2) and then chief justice (No 1).
There was also the plan to get former attorney-general Mokhtar Abdullah, who was then a Federal Court judge, to replace Ahmad Fairuz as No 3.
To do that, Lingam had roped in tycoon Vincent Tan, a close crony of then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, a key minister in PM’s Department. They were to talk to Mahathir on the appointment of judges.
A main point of the conversation - believed to be with Ahmad Fairuz in the context of the conversation - was that there appeared to be two camps in the judiciary belonging respectively to former CJ Eusoff Chin and his successor, Mohamad Dzaiddin Abdullah.
The lawyer also indicated that earlier efforts to appoint judges aligned to Chin had been thwarted by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.
Based on what Lingam let drop, both Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan had apparently played an instrumental role in the appointment of judges as well to secure the honorific title of ‘Tan Sri’ for Ahmad Fairuz. ..." Read here for more on Malaysiakini
- Read here earlier posting "EXPOSED!! Caught on Tape, Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz and a Lawyer Engaged in "FIXING " Judgments "
- Read here Screenshot's survey of Malaysian's mainstream media's reporting of the scandal in their print versions and internet news portals
" (November 2001) ...Whether the judiciary was to be proceed on the road to full recovery would depend on who was to be appointed to fill a vacancy in a senior judicial post created by the retirement of Justice Lamin Mohd Yunus, the former President of the Court of Appeal in March 2001.
The logical choice for the Court of Appeal post was Wan Adnan Ismail, the chief judge of Malaya. That seemed to be dictated by both seniority and merit.
The question was who was to succeed him as Chief Judge of Malaya?
Based on these criteria, there could be no dispute about the most suitable candidate. The obvious choice was Justice Malik Ahmad. He was the senior most Federal Court judge after justice Wan Adnan, and his merit as a judge was beyond question.
But when the appointments were announced on Sept 6, 2001, it was Justice Ahmad Fairuz who named as the new Chief Judge of Malaya.
That Justice Ahmad Fairuz has been chosen over justice Abdul Malik in spite of the implications of those decisions is worrying.
With the appointment of (Justice Ahmad Fairuz as) the new Chief Judge of Malaya, the apprehension felt by many members of the Bar that the improvement in the judiciary was to be short-lived appears justified.
Where appointments and promotions are made in disregard of acceptable criteria, it is not the confidence of the public in the judiciary alone that is undermined.Good judges, too, will feel no pride in being part of a judicial system where neither merit nor seniority is recognised.
We may be in the process of seeing history repeating itself. The country will be the loser once again if it does.
It is indeed a great pity. Instead of going forward, we have now taken one step back.Read here for more
-Raja Aziz Addruse (2001)
FAST-FORWARD to SEPTEMBER 2007
The Chairman of the Bar Council, Ambiga Sreenevasan issued the following press statement today:
"The Bar Council is appalled by the disturbing Malaysiakini report today and the shocking video clip that accompanies it that shows a lawyer apparently “fixing” judicial appointments with a senior judge.
Rumours and allegations of such machinations have been rife since the Judicial Crisis in 1988.
With the emergence of this video clip, the concerns expressed by various quarters in relation to the judiciary can no longer be swept aside. Immediate and urgent action must be taken.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry into this matter and the affairs of the Judiciary must be appointed.
Nothing less will do."
"...Right, Madam President, I have now seen the (video) clip.
The best part of it was the invocation of God's blessing at the end of the clip - what beautiful irony!!!!! and the allusion to the nation's interest and of course the bouncing pot belly.
So now you, as President, must move.
The Legal Profession Act has enough clout for immediate action.
The rot has to be excised and NOW and FROM WITHIN profession.
The clip displays conduct that is reprehensible.
Do NOT waste time in calling for EGMs or humming or hawing.
If the Bar Council can see fit to suspend lawyers for far lesser transgressions than that displayed here then this calls for the gallows.
You either move NOW, or you don't.
On another note I can only express sadness that I have wasted close to 38 years in this profession and failed to cultivate the warm friendships displayed on the clip. Woe is me for having taken the road less travelled.
Imagine the pomp and splendour and gold and glitter, and titles of course, I could have collected if I had only built up a friendship with the man with the phone in his hand - but then, on reflection, I would most probably have slit my own throat first then go down that path...."
"... Malaysiakini reported that ‘when contacted this afternoon, the personal assistant to the CJ relayed a message that he wanted to have a look at the video before saying anything’.
Isn’t that odd? Why take the stance of ‘let me look at what evidence you have first’?
If you’re squeaky clean, why look at the evidence first before you proclaim your innocence?
And this from the man who advised recently elevated Muslim judges to remember to do their duty according to Islam!
Who only recently spoke of abolishing Common Law and replacing it with Islamic Law!
The Qur’an has a specific description for one who says one thing but does quite the opposite.
I wonder what the hudud punishment is for a dishonest, corrupt judge?
I guess Mr CJ will NOT be in such a great hurry now to take Islamic law to new heights in this country.
Pak Lah, tribunalise this corrupt pretender to the judicial throne now. "
"...The fact that the evidential instance of his corruption occurred in the past in 2002 when he was in the influential position of the Chief Judge of Malaya only makes wonder just how much more acts of corruption occurred under his stewardship.
He has surpassed all the previous Chief Justices and brought the bar so low on all attributes required of a Chief Justice of Malaysia that only Mother Nature's most useless and vile creatures would have the necessary (not required) attributes to assume the position.
Instead of bringing honour and restoring the impeccable integrity, intellectual fortitude and robustness and industry of the pre-1988 judiciary, he has led it down into a cesspool.
. All those responsible for recommending him, doing the due diligence on him (unless they made a negative finding on him), and finally appointing him to the position of Chief Justice are similarly tainted.
I think it very frightening that lawyers of poor repute, a minister unrelated to the law, Malaysian businessmen, the prime minister and his cronies and who knows who else are involved in the appointment of judges..."
"...We all talk of the rule of law as if it is all powerful. But what happens when the rule of law is thwarted by behaviour that is unethical, dishonest and downright immoral by those who are its upholders?
It confirms what Malaysians have always suspected - that invisible hands pull the strings behind the charade of respect for the constitution and the rule of law. Now that all the window-dressing, denials, excuses and rhetoric have put paid to the pretense, the bureaucracy has been shown for what it is - a 'whitewashed tomb' which is white on the outside but putrid within.
Malaysians ought to wake up to the truth that they are being taken for a ride and that much happens in government that is downright dishonest and a mockery of good governance.
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will have much to explain but it is a tough ask when his administration is also bogged in financial fiascos that are covered up and not dealt with in the public space..."
"...I am actually shocked by the revelation that a large proportion of the upper echelon of judges are appointed at the recommendations of a selected few, including VK Lingam - a lawyer and member of the Malaysian Bar.
It is unbelievable how he is able to manipulate those people in high places. You can almost call him a ‘king-maker’.
This scandal in the judiciary cannot be swept under the carpet. The Bar Council and our Malay Rulers are the last bastions to save Malaysia.
Forget filing any application in court to impeach or remove the judges. Who is going to hear your application? The Chief Justice?
I am sure all the lawyers in the country are devastated by the revelations of the Lingam tape, Lingam being the only exception. "
"... Previously, the people’s perception was that judges could be ‘bought’ in this country by powerful litigants. This has now been more or less confirmed.
The current tenure of our Chief Justice himself has been dodged by numerous controversies including the promotion of undeserving judges, biased judgments and judges who have failed to produce their written judgments, sometimes for years.
Foreign investors will be more worried about investing in this country if they see that our judiciary is compromised. Our leaders seem to be people of low integrity if we look at all the scandals that has beset our nation.
He will go down in history with a cloud over his tenure, a poor example when compared to the former luminaries of the Malaysian judiciary such as Suffian Hashim, Raja Azlan Shah and Salleh Abas.
Sadly, the present CJ is not alone for there have been other top judges involved in scandals when they were in office.
It would seem that judges who uphold the rule of law are put in cold storage until retirement while those who are either corrupt or lap dogs of the executive are rewarded with promotions."
"...Aliran president P Ramakrishnan called for the purging of judges found undeserving of their appointments or promotions. Such drastic measures, he said, are necessary because of the judiciary’s slide from its previously esteemed international standing to the present rot in which it languishes.
“It has sunk so low that it has reached rock bottom and it has lost the respect of well-meaning Malaysians who are appalled at the state of the judiciary,” he added.
For this to happen, he said the suspension of Ahmad Fairuz is also in order to allow the authorities to get “to the bottom of the truth without any interference or sabotage.”
“The controversy that we are embroiled in is a serious one that has completely undermined people's confidence in our system of justice and tarnished the image of the judiciary irreparably. Any delay in addressing this issue will make a mockery of justice and turn Malaysia into a laughing-stock,” he said.
Describing the rot in the judiciary as a matter of urgent priority, Ramakrishnan said the purge of the judges - whom he labelled as “co-plotters in this nefarious scheme” - was necessary to save the judiciary from “the clutches of the executive.”