Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Param: Not too late for probe on Dr M

Apr 2, 08 12:46pm
Former UN special rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy believes that it’s still not too late to investigate ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad for allegedly interfering with a probe by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in 1998.

In a statement, Param said there is “sufficient evidence” to show that Mahathir had interfered with the ACA, based on testimony during Anwar Ibrahim’s corruption trial that year.

“There is one alleged misdeed of Mahathir which needs investigation. In 1998, Anwar was investigated for interference with police investigations,” said Param (photo).

“(Anwar) was charged for corruption under Section 2(1) of the (Emergency Powers) Ordinance 1970 for the alleged interference. He was found guilty and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.”

During Anwar’s second trial in June 2000 before Justice Arifin Jaka, then ACA director Shafee Yahya had given sworn testimony when asked about an investigation on the director-general of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

Transcript of the notes recorded by the judge of this part of the testimony (excerpts are unedited):

Counsel: Adakah you search the EPU chief’s office?

Shafee: Yes, I did.

Counsel: Was a big sum of money found in the drawer of the EPU director-general for which he could not explain?

Court: What is the relevancy? No need to answer.

Counsel: Did Anwar Ibrahim directed you to raid the office of the EPU chief?

Shafee: No.

Counsel: Did Anwar ask you to close the case against the director?
Shafee: No.

Counsel: Did anyone ask you to close the case?

Shafee: Yes, the prime minister did.

Counsel: Narrate the circumstances under which the PM asked you to close the investigation.

Counsel: Were you called up by the PM?

Shafee: Yes. I was told off, 'How dare you raid my senior officer’s office?' I was taken aback and I replied 'This was based on official complaint by an aggrieved party'.

I did what was officially required under the law. He accused me of trying to fix the former DG of EPU.

I replied that is totally wrong because it is wrong in law to fix anybody. As a Muslim it is a big sin to fix anybody.

He asked me, 'Did Anwar Ibrahim ask you to raid the office?' I said, 'no'.

It was based on an official complain and to be fair to Anwar when I mentioned the complain against the EPU chief, I inform Anwar of my intention to raid but he said, 'Have you cleared this with the PM?'.

I said, 'I mentioned this to PM, the PM kept quiet'.

Counsel: What was the tone of PM when he asked you whether Anwar asked you to raid? Was it in an angry tone or normal conversation tone?

Shafee: The tone was rather accusatory.

Counsel: The EPU was directly under the PM’s Department.

Court: No more questions on the investigation on the EPU chief. I am not satisfied of the relevancy of such evidence.

Counsel: Was the EPU responsible for awarding privatisation of projects?

Shafee: As far as I know, it is.

Counsel: After you were scolded by the PM did you inform anybody about this?

Shafee: I informed the Chief Secretary to the Government.

Counsel: What was your reaction when the PM scolded you and told you to close the case against the DG of EPU?

Shafee: I was highly dissolution and when I went home I told my wife I wanted to resign. But in view that I have two or three months to finish my extension - my wife persuaded me not to resign.

Counsel: Why did you feel dissolution and decide to resign?

Shafee: In my whole career with the government, this was the first time my boss accused me of trying to fix somebody and also my dissolution in the way the PM was interfering with my duty.

Outcome still unknown

Param noted that although police reports alleging that Mahathir had interfered with ACA investigations were filed the following day (June 13, 2000), nothing has been heard about the outcome of the investigations.

The alleged interference was said to have occurred in June 1998. In response to Shafee’s testimony, Mahathir (left) was quoted by the media as saying that he could not remember the incident.

“Here was a clear and glaring situation where the head of the ACA gave sworn testimony of Mahathir’s interference on an ongoing investigation by the agency.

“Yet to date the public do not know what happened to not only that investigation of the director-general of the EPU but investigation of Mahathir for interfering with the ACA’s investigation,” said Param.

He went on say that, if there is no truth to Shafee’s evidence, then he should have been charged for perjury.

“That never happened either,” said Param.

He said it is not too late to re-open the file, if at all one had been opened after Shafee’s revelation in court in June 2000.

“Otherwise fresh investigations should commence. If Mahathir is not confident with the ACA investigating him, the present government should invite a credible foreign agency to investigate him for the alleged interference with the ACA investigation,” he added.

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