Friday, September 28, 2007

ACA questions PKR's Sivarasa on damning video clip

R. Manirajan and Llew-Ann Phang
The Sun

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah was questioned for two hours by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) today on the video recording of a telephone conversation between a senior lawyer and another person believed to be a senior ranking judge.

During the questioning, Sivarasa handed over a copy of the eight minute video clip and a transcript of the entire telephone conversation, including comments, to ACA investigating officer Thilagawathy Tambu.

After watching the recording together, Sivarasa was asked when PKR got hold of the DVD and who the source was.

"I told her whatever I knew, including the details of the entire 14-minute recording," Sivarasa said when met outside the ACA office here.

He said the full 14-minute recording could not be given to the ACA because the source believed that by doing so, his identity would be compromised.

"I told the ACA I can’t reveal my source and that is the same answer I will give you reporters. We can’t publicly disclose who the source is," Sivarasa said, adding that he himself knows and has met the source.

Sivarasa said the ACA had been informed that he and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have viewed the full video recording.

"The other part of the recording clearly shows Datuk V.K. Lingam (the senior lawyer in the video) telling the people in the room, after the telephone conversation, that he was speaking to (Chief Justice) Tun Ahmad Fairuz (Sheikh Abdul Halim)."

Sivarasa had last week lodged a report with the ACA over the revelations in the recording after it was made public in a press conference by Anwar.

Sivarasa also took to task Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail for stating that the video recording did not show any criminal offence being committed.

"The ACA said they have a different view of the case."

Sivarasa said he suggested the ACA seek technical experts to verify the recording’s authenticity, and to check Lingam and Ahmad Fairuz’s handphone records in 2002 which was when the recording was made.

In a press conference at PKR’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur earlier, Sivarasa said the party was willing to assist the Special Independent Investigation Panel, led by former Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, in its investigations into the video’s authenticity.

However, he said the full 14-minute video clip could only be screened with the source’s permission.

He also pointed out that the panel faced the challenge of not being able to summon witnesses or to provide protection for witnesses, adding that these were important for an effective investigation.

He said the panel’s terms of reference were also too limited because "the problem is bigger than that".

For example, Sivarasa said the current appointment of judges was problematic because the prime minister only had to consult with the Chief Justice and the Conference of Rulers before appointing a judge.

"With the video, we have exposed that the process is clearly tainted, with people like lawyers (meddling in these matters)," he added.

PKR secretary-general Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim called on the Bar Council to press for investigation panel members to be selected through peer group selection to ensure check and balance.

"The selection of the panel was not done through a clear and transparent process," he said, noting that Haidar, for example, may have a conflict of interest because he was a trustee of the Perdana Leadership Foundation helmed by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

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