PM expects RCI on judicial interference set to start soon

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad greets visitors to his Raya Open House at Seri Perdana, Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad greets visitors to his Raya Open House at Seri Perdana, Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, June 5 — The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on judicial misconduct and interference should commence shortly, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

The prime minister also asserted that Malaysians want such an inquiry to take place.

“I think they will start work soon,” he told reporters at the prime minister’s official residence at Seri Perdana here.

On former judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram’s proposal yesterday for an internal inquiry instead of an RCI that could be seen as contravening the separation of powers, Dr Mahathir said this was just one of many opinions.

However, he reiterated that there was public desire for such an inquiry.

The prime minister gave the same response when asked for his views about the need for the RCI.

“Don’t ask me because I am entitled to my own opinion, but I have to respond to public views,” he added.

In a court affidavit dated February 14, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer had made allegations — which many have described as explosive and shocking — regarding purported instances of judicial interference and judicial misconduct.

On February 21, Dr Mahathir confirmed that the government has agreed to form an RCI regarding the alleged judicial misconduct.

“Yes, we are setting up the RCI and we will leave it to them to look into the allegations made by the judge,” he had then said, noting then that the government has not decided on the RCI's terms of reference or how far back the inquiry would look into.

On June 2, minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong was reported saying that the RCI has yet to convene due to a pending lawsuit challenging the RCI's legality and as the government wants the law to take its course first.

The lawsuit was filed by former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee in April, where the latter is arguing that the RCI would amount to executive interference in the affairs of the judiciary.

Liew, however, said that there would be no disruptions of investigations by the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in relation to the same matter.