KUALA LUMPUR, August 9 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today sued the government in a bid to stop two individuals from being part of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) panel, claiming that they were “disqualified” and that this was necessary to prevent prejudice.
In court documents sighted by Malay Mail Online, Dr Mahathir asked for the Kuala Lumpur High Court to order the quashing of the RCI panel’s decision yesterday to not disqualify the duo from sitting on the panel.
The two panel members referred to by Dr Mahathir are the panel’s chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan and fellow commissioner Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon.
Dr Mahathir today also sought a court order to compel the government of Malaysia to immediately advise the Yang Di-pertuan Agong in accordance with the Federal Constitution’s Articles 40(1) and 40(1A) to revoke or terminate the latter’s consent for the duo’s appointment to the RCI panel.
He also sought a court order to stop the commissioners from carrying out their roles or conducting the RCI proceedings until the end of the lawsuit.
Dr Mahathir was the prime minister during the 1990s when Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was alleged to have incurred billions of ringgit of foreign exchange (forex) losses — an issue that will be examined by this RCI panel in scheduled hearings within these two months.
To back his lawsuit, Dr Mahathir asserted that the RCI panel’s current composition is in breach of “natural justice” as both Mohd Sidek and Saw were also members of a previous special task force that had recommended to the Cabinet for an RCI to be held to probe the 1990s forex losses.
Dr Mahathir, who is currently chairman of the opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), said the duo had already played an “objective and personal” role in evaluating all testimonies available during the special task force stage until their conclusion in recommending the RCI.
Their role as special task force members caused the duo to be “disqualified as members of this Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) panel as all members of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) panel have to be free from any conclusion or prejudice from the outset”, Dr Mahathir claimed in the court document.
The court document claimed that Dr Mahathir as an “interested party” to the RCI proceedings would have his fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution’s Articles 5(1) and 8(1) jeopardised if natural justice was not complied with in this RCI.
It further pointed out that the issue of natural justice was being raised in relation to the composition of the RCI panel, and not at the stage touching on the recommendations made by the panel as the RCI proceedings have yet to begin.
The seven respondents sued by Dr Mahathir in the lawsuit filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court this afternoon are Mohd Sidek, Saw, their three fellow commissioners Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, Pushpanathan S.A Kanagarayar, the RCI secretary Datuk Yusof Ismail and the government of Malaysia.
“All necessary documents have been served to the AG’s office as well as the Secretary of the RCI, for them to be fully aware of this action, despite the fact that it is an Ex-Parte Application,” Dr Mahathir’s lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said in a statement.
The RCI panel, which has been given five terms of reference, has to complete its inquiry and submit its report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong within three months by the scheduled date of October 13.
The five terms of reference include determining the validity of the claim that losses have been incurred by BNM due to foreign exchange dealings in the 1990s and its impact on the country’s economy; and determining whether BNM’s foreign exchange dealings which incurred losses had breached the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or other relevant laws.
The RCI panel is also tasked with determining whether there were “elements of deliberate concealment of facts and information and misleading statements” made to the Cabinet, Parliament and the public about BNM’s losses due to the foreign exchange dealings; to recommend appropriate action against those involved directly or indirectly if they are found to have caused the losses or concealed related facts and information; as well as to recommend a course of action to ensure such events would not be repeated.
The inquiry hearings, which are open to the public, will stretch over 10 days at the Court of Appeal on August 21, 24, 29, 30 and September 6, 7, 18, 19, 20, 21.