KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 – The High Court here was told today that the decision by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) in dismissing former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s application to disqualify the appointment of two members of the inquiry was correct. The RCI was set up to investigate the foreign exchange losses by Bank Negara in the 1990’s.
Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Amarjeet Singh said the decision by RCI was made on grounds that it did not have the jurisdiction or the power to terminate the appointment of Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan and Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon. He said the appointment could only be terminated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acting on the advice of the cabinet. He also said that this is based on the principle that only appointing authority has the power to terminate the appointment
Amarjeet said this in his submission during a proceeding in chambers before High Court Judge Datin Azizah Nawawi on the government’s objection against Dr Mahathir’s leave application for a judicial review to quash the decision of the RCI in rejecting his request to disqualify Mohd Sidek and saw’s appointment in the commission.
He also said it was against public interest to subject the RCI to a judicial review at the outset or during or at the conclusion of the inquiry. The commission, he said, was merely an adjunct to the task force as it had more bite than the task force which was administrative and carrying out fact finding function.
Amarjeet represented members of inquiry, namely chairman Mohd Sidek, who is also Petronas chairman; High Court judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said; Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan; Saw, who is the co-chairman of the Special Task Force to Ffacilitate Business (Pemudah); Malaysian Institute of Accountants membe , K. Puspanathan and the government of Malaysia, who were named as respondents.
Meanwhile, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented Tun Dr Mahathir, said today was fixed to hear his client’s leave application for a judicial review, but the respondents objected to it (application). “If leave is allowed, we want an order to suspend proceeding of the inquiry which will be heard on Aug 21,” he said, adding that the court fixed this Thursday (Aug 17) for decision on the objection by the respondents.
Dr Mahathir filed the application last Aug 9 to quash the RCI’s decision, made on Aug 8, to disqualify the appointment of Mohd Sidek and Saw as members of the commission. He is also seeking a mandamus order for the government or cabinet to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to revoke the appointment of Mohd Sidek and Saw as members of the commission of inquiry.
Dr Mahathir filed the application on grounds that the commission of inquiry had breached the natural justice because Mohd Sidek and Saw were also members of a task force responsible for the investigation that forwarded a recommendation to advise the cabinet to form the Commission of Inquiry. — Bernama