PUTRAJAYA, Aug 8 — Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah has recused herself from hearing former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali’s appeal against a High Court’s dismissal of his RM10 million defamation lawsuit against Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang.
Justice Hanipah, who chaired a three-member bench, said she decided to recuse herself from hearing the appeal as she presided over the judicial review proceedings involving Mohamed Apandi in 2016 relating to the investigation of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case.
“The subject matter of the judicial review at the High Court and this appeal involved two main issues. The first issue is the exercise of the power of the AG (Mohamed Apandi), who is now the appellant in this appeal over Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, (which deals with the power of the AG to commence or discontinue criminal court proceedings).
“The second issue is the exercise of the appellant’s discretionary power on mutual legal assistance and also to exonerate the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from any wrongdoing (in 1MDB scandal) at the High Court.
“As justice must not only be done but seen to be done...I, therefore, recuse myself from hearing this appeal for the cause of justice,” she said after allowing the application by Lim’s counsel Sangeet Kaur Deo to recuse the judge from hearing the appeal.
The other two judges on the bench were Datuk M. Gunalan and Datuk Azmi Ariffin. The court then fixed September 4 to hear Mohamed Apandi’s appeal.
Earlier, Sangeet sought the recusal as Hanipah, who was the Kuala Lumpur High Court judge in 2016, had dismissed the leave application for judicial review by former Batu Kawan Umno vice-chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan to challenge Mohamed Apandi’s decision to close the investigation over 1MDB scandal and to exonerate Najib of any wrongdoing over involvement in the 1MDB matter.
On May 23 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Mohamed Apandi’s suit against the DAP veteran for allegedly defaming him in an article on the 1MDB scandal.
In his suit filed on July 5, 2019, Mohamed Apandi claimed that on May 6, 2019, Lim had written and caused to be published an article titled “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia’s on the road to integrity” in the Malaysiakini portal.
He claimed the alleged libellous words in the article implied that he was involved in crime and had abetted in the 1MDB financial scandal, was a person with no morals and integrity, was unethical and had abused his power when he was the AG.
Mohamed Apandi, who was the AG from July 27, 2015, to June 4, 2018, contended that the libellous words were untrue and written with the intention of tarnishing his image and credibility as a former Malaysian AG for cheap publicity.
Mohamed Apandi filed the appeal on May 24 last year. — Bernama