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’

New Straits Times - - Front Page - PU­TRA­JAYA BER­NAMA PIC

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.

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