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Panels reports to be made public? See first, says PM

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government will act accordingly on the Lingam tape if it is deemed to be a "matter of public interest".

The premier said this when asked whether the government plans to make public the findings of the three-member panel, which were submitted to the government in three individual reports on Tuesday.

"We have to study the reports first. If we find it is a matter of public interest, we will act accordingly," he told a press conference after the Umno annual meet in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Abdullah appeared unsure when first posed the question on whether he would announce the findings of the panel, led by former chief judge of Malaya Haidar Mohd Noor.

He turned to his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak, who was seated next to him, asking: "Have they submitted (the reports)?".

On the latest additional footage to the Lingam tape released by PKR's de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, Abdullah said the panel "can take a look at that".

Government to decide

On Tuesday, the panel has submitted their findings to the government - two days before the Nov 9 deadline given to them to complete their task.

The panel, appointed on Sept 27, was given a 30-working-day period to verify the authenticity of the clip, which has since sparked uproar within the legal fraternity and among the public.

The panel members had said they could not make public their findings as yet and they will leave it to the government to decide whether to do so.

Apart from Haidar, the other two on the panel were former court of appeal judge Mahadev Shankar and social activist Lee Lam Thye.

The eight-minute clip, released by PKR on Sept 19, showed senior lawyer VK Lingam talking on the phone, allegedly with then Chief Judge of Malaya (and since Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim until he retired on Oct 31) on appointing 'friendly' judges.

Ahmad Fairuz has denied his involvement in the telephone conversation through a minister, while Lingam has been silent to date despite media attempts to obtain comments.

SPECIAL REPORT: The Lingam tape