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Lingam tape: Will the govt be bold enough?

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Lawyer Lingam, tycoon Tan quizzed by ACA .

The special independent panel investigating the authenticity of the video clip allegedly detailing a conversation about judicial appointments dropped the first bombshell after its inaugural meeting, - it has no legal power, no power to administer an oath, no power to compel witnesses to come forward and no power to commit anybody for contempt.

Furthermore, the members of the panel have no immunity under the law and their work would depend very much on the civic-consciousness and cooperation of members of the public. This comes as great disappointment to Malaysians who had placed so much faith in the panel to help restore integrity to our judiciary.

It is puzzling why a panel with no legal authority should be set up in the first place. Isn't this a waste of taxpayers' money? How can the panel be independent when it is instituted by the executive and answerable solely to the government? How impartial can the government be in getting to the root of the scandal when it is also partly responsible for it?

The panel is depending on civic-minded people to come forward to provide information on the controversial lawyer-judge video clip. The whole issue is regarding investigation into alleged misconduct at the highest levels of the judiciary. If there is lack of civic-consciousness at that level, how can we expect ordinary members of the public to have such a virtue in abundance to come forward to testify?

Moreover, even among those who possess such civic consciousness, how many would dare come forward when they are not protected against reprisals?

Somebody had taken the video, implicating serious misconduct at the highest level of the judiciary. If the allegations are proven true, it is a very grave offence. The government must take this matter very seriously and leave no stone unturned to investigate these allegations with great urgency. It should be bold enough to take whatever action necessary, including setting up a royal commission of inquiry, to clear the judiciary of any wrongdoing.

It should give top priority to safeguard the integrity in the judiciary. The primary concern should be the truth or otherwise of the allegations in the video - the motive for its release is secondary.

There are two aspects to the tape scandal - the authenticity of the tape and the truth of the allegations contained in it. Both these aspects should be probed so that we can get to the truth. If the video is found to be unauthentic, then action must be taken against whoever produced it with evil intent.

Irrespective of whether the video is genuine or otherwise, it has highlighted the need for a comprehensive review of the procedures for the promotion of judges in the country.

We are often told that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. Similarly, the judiciary must be seen to be clean and independent in the eyes of the rakyat. Otherwise, the very purpose of existence of the institution would be questionable.