Dr M, Anwar’s bid to recuse Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, quashed
‘Composition of commission has been consented to by Yang di-Pertuan Agong’
THE Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) investigating Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) foreign exchange (forex) losses in the 1980s and 1990s kicked off yesterday with the dismissal of a bid to challenge the legality of the commission’s composition.
The five-man panel, chaired by former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, decided to proceed with the inquiry as they saw no reason to recuse themselves as they were appointed by the Yang diPertuan Agong.
“We concurred that the composition of the commission has been consented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and, therefore, we shall continue the proceedings,” Sidek said.
Yesterday marked the first day of the RCI’s hearing.
Scores of journalists from both local and foreign agencies had gathered outside the courtroom as early as 8am for the muchanticipated proceedings.
The space in front of the courtroom was filled with cameras and video recorders that were set up by the press covering the proceedings, in hope of being able to speak to RCI panel members as well as attendees.
Earlier, lawyers Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla and R. Sivarasa, who held a watching brief for former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, respectively, made an oral application to recuse Sidek and the Government’s Public-Private Sector Special Task Force on Facilitating Business co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon from being a panel member.
The application was made on the grounds that Sidek and Saw were earlier involved in the Special Task Force probing the case.
Haniff said members of the recommending body should not form the panel deciding on this matter and that the issue of panel composition was important to ensure a fair hearing.
On another application by both lawyers to actively participate in the proceedings, the panel decided that the issues that could and would be raised were subject to relevancy, as per the terms of reference.
In objecting to the lawyers’ application earlier, conducting officer of the RCI Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim said the application had no basis as there was no rule against the composition of this commission or on whether a person involved in the earlier task force could not be a panel member of the RCI.
After concluding the matter, the panel proceeded to read out the five terms of reference of the RCI:
TO determine the validity of the claim that losses had been incurred by BNM due to the forex dealings in the 1990s and its impact on the economy of the country;
TO determine whether BNM’s forex dealings which incurred losses had contravened the provisions of the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or any other relevant laws;
TO determine whether there were elements of deliberate concealment of facts and information and misleading statements made in the cabinet, Parliament and public regarding the losses incurred by BNM due to the forex dealings;
TO recommend appropriate action to be taken against parties involved directly and/or indirectly if they were found to have caused the losses incurred by BNM and concealed the fact and information regarding the said losses; and,
TO recommend the course of action to ensure similar events would not be repeated.
“The commissioners shall complete the inquiry and present a report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong within three months as stipulated.
“Therefore, given the constraint of time and power, the commissioners shall focus on the terms of reference of the RCI and will not allow any interference or any person that are not related to it,” Sidek said.
The panel fixed a 10-day hearing beginning Aug 21 at the Court of Appeal here.
Meanwhile, outside the court, Haniff said they would file a further application on the decision of the panel.
“We feel that the current composition of the RCI is against the law and natural justice,” he said.
The other members of the panel are High Court judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, and co-chairman and member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants K. Pushpanathan.
Page 1 pic: Journalists and photographers waiting outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya as early as 8am yesterday for the proceedings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry investigating Bank Negara Malaysia’s foreign exchange losses.