KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 ― The High Court today rejected former minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor’s application for details of his asset declarations to be heard privately without the public’s or the media’s presence.
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ruled that the public should be allowed to hear such details and Tengku Adnan’s trial must be conducted transparently for it to be seen as a fair trial.
The judge noted that Section 15(1) of the Courts of Judicature Act provides for court proceedings to be open to the public and for the public to have access to such proceedings, while also acknowledging that there were certain provisos or exceptions under the same provision.
The judge noted that Tengku Adnan, commonly called Ku Nan, had sought to rely on two of the provisos, namely that it would be expedient in the interests of justice or for other sufficient reasons, to have the asset declarations be heard in camera or to be heard privately without the public being present.
“In gist, the accused is apprehensive of his assets and that of his family to be made known publicly. He is, among others, fearful for the safety of his family should the details of his wealth be made known publicly.
“I’m of the view that to do so would in fact be contrary to the interests of justice. I’m mindful of the fact that the accused is a former federal minister and this case has garnered much public interest. The trial must not only be conducted fairly but must be seen to be conducted fairly.
“For the trial to be conducted fairly, it must be done transparently. The public therefore has a right to hear what the court hears and see what the court sees.
“This way the public would be able to appreciate any decision made by the court and not kept guessing by any evidence kept secret.”
“I, therefore, find that the accused has failed to convince this court here that it would be in the interests of justice or show sufficient reason to seek for this application,” he said.
Earlier today, Tengku Adnan had applied to the court to have his lawyer’s additional questions regarding his asset declarations to three different prime ministers in the years of 2001, 2006, 2013 and 2016 and also documents listing his declared assets to be heard privately before only the judge, prosecution and his own lawyers.
Following the High Court’s rejection of his application for a private hearing of details regarding his total assets value while being part of the federal government, Tengku Adnan was then questioned by his own lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan on these details.
Tan limited his questions on the asset declarations to the value of the total assets which Tengku Adnan had declared owning in the four years of 2001, 2006, 2013 and 2016.
When asked by Tan, Tengku Adnan confirmed that he had declared to the prime minister in 2001 that he had total assets valued at RM938,643,566.16 or over RM938 million, and that he had made similar asset declarations in 2006 of his total assets being worth RM711,325,822 or over RM711 million, and in 2013 at RM691,770,649 or over RM691 million, and finally at RM782,748,061 or over RM782 million in 2016.
Tengku Adnan confirmed these figures as stated in the written asset declarations that he had made to three different prime ministers, namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2001, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2006, and Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2013 and 2016.
Tan did not ask Tengku Adnan about any other details in his written asset declarations, and had limited the questions to just the value of his total assets declared in those four years.
Tengku Adnan was testifying in his own defence in his trial for allegedly receiving a RM2 million bribe from businessman Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong.
Previously, Tengku Adnan had in his witness statement claimed that Chai had given the RM2 million as a political donation for Umno’s expenses for the two by-elections of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar in June 2016, and that the RM2 million was paid to Tengku Adnan’s company as Tengku Adnan had allegedly advanced his own funds first before Chai’s donation was ready.
Tengku Adnan had also previously stated that he did not need the RM2 million for himself as he was already a successful businessman — involved in “real estate, logging, manufacturing, trading, agricultural, hotel, livestock and food businesses” — before he joined the Cabinet in 2001 at the prime minister’s request.
After questioning by Tan, Tengku Adnan was then cross-examined by the prosecution.
While being questioned by the prosecution, Tengku Adnan, however, abruptly burst out angrily over the court’s refusal to allow his asset details to be heard in private.
Tengku Adnan’s trial before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan resumes tomorrow morning, with Tengku Adnan set to continue testifying as a defence witness in his own defence.