Friday, October 21, 2016

Ex-Federal Court judge rubbishes Pandikar's sub judice cloak

     Hafiz Yatim     Published     Updated
Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia's argument, that raising the 1MDB scandal in Parliament would be sub judice, is legally incorrect.

"With respect, I do not think that makes the matter sub judice.

"In any event, the minister's answer will be hearsay evidence in the DOJ suit and will therefore be inadmissible unless the minister gives evidence in the suit.

"So with respect, I do not think that what is attributed to the honourable speaker is correct in law," he told Malaysiakini.

Yesterday, Pandikar claimed it was sub judice to discuss the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) suit to seize 1MDB assets in the country, because the Hansard could then purportedly be cited by the DOJ in its hearing.

"What the minister said here can be quoted in the American trial. In my opinion, this can influence the trial," he said.

On Tuesday, former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus also concurred, telling Malaysiakini the question of sub judice does not arise at all.

Fear of summons?

Meanwhile, a lawyer speculated Pandikar's move to bar discussion of the 1MDB scandal may stem from fears that ministers who are forced to cover-up the 1MDB scandal in Parliament could be summoned by the US.

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla alleged this is the reason the speaker ruled that questions related to 1MDB cannot be raised.

“What is there to hide? Tell the truth, even if it is bitter,” he told Malaysiakini.

“That is what people want to hear from elected representatives especially ministers. This is especially so in Parliament, where they are expected to tell the truth.

“If Pandikar is looking at the possibility of the Hansard being used to influence the DOJ case... then it only shows the speaker's fear that ministers might be asked not to tell the truth and as a result of this, they could be summoned,” he said.

However, Haniff pointed out elected representatives have immunity with regard to what is said in Parliament.

Therefore, he pointed out that even if the DOJ subpoenaed them, they could apply to set it aside in Malaysia.

“So what is the fear in telling the truth? I am sure the DOJ will have their own evidence (and not merely rely on Malaysia's Hansard).
“What is needed are true answers, which everyone, including Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is evading,” he added.
Pandikar forgets immunity

Furthermore, Haniff noted how the government had earlier stated the DOJ suit did not involve the prime minister.

If this is the case, the lawyer said, there should be no fear of Parliamentary debates on the DOJ action.

The DOJ in July initiated a series of forfeiture suits on assets and expenditure worth over US$1 billion it claims had been procured in the US using funds the department claims had been embezzled from 1MDB.

Najib had denied any wrongdoing or taking public funds for personal gains.

1MDB has also maintained that all of its funds are accounted for.

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