Lingam investigations start with media

It’s funny to think that the first people to be charged with this Lingam tape issue, would coincidentally be the media. NST, the Star and Berita Harian are all going to face charges for “leaking” information on the findings of the Royal Commission set up to investigate the Lingam tape. Ironic?

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — The fallout from the Royal Commission report on the V.K. Lingam video scandal has claimed its first victim – the press.

Police reports were today lodged against the Berita Harian, New Straits Times and The Star by the Prime Minister’s Department for breaching the Official Secrets Act and publishing excerpts of the report before the Cabinet ruled that it could be made public.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that commission members, ministers and Umno politicians have been upset with several newspapers for breaking the embargo on the explosive report which confirmed what Malaysians long suspected – that the appointment of judges during the Mahathir era was manipulated by individuals close to the then prime minister.

Star, the country’s top-selling English daily, broke the first story – a day after commission members presented it to the King – and reported that the commission verified that lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam was speaking to former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim on the telephone when he was captured on the tape. During the conversation, Lingam seemed to be brokering the appointment of judges.

The paper subsequently followed that exclusive with two other reports. These reports were picked up and translated by the Chinese language newspapers.

Today, the NST and Berita Harian on its front page said that the commission found that former deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tengku Adnan Mansor and businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan had direct influence in the appointment and promotion of judges.

Investigating the newspaper for breaching the OSA may assuage ruling party politicians who have felt threatened by the less restrained brand of journalism being exhibited by Malaysian newspapers since the elections. But it is going to be criticised by the Opposition and non-governmental organisations as another example of a government reaching for tools of old Malaysia to deal with realities of new Malaysia.

Full article here.

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I personally feel that this is a step backwards. The OSA? WHY?

Although I can see why they are “upset”, given that the newspapers published excerpts from the report before official “permission” was given, but I don’t think a police report should have been lodged. And especially not under the OSA. Besides, it was the Royal Commission, right? Then any findings done by the Royal Commission would have had to be made public anyway, no matter what the PM said.

What, I feel, the Abdullah government should do now is concentrate on how they are going to go about investigating and carrying out the recommendations in the report. There are big people that have been involved, and investigations on these people are going to be difficult, and complicating. There will be loads of secrets to uncover, cupboards to search, carpets to be overturned.

With so much on their hands now after the reports by the Royal Commission, I don’t think they should be lodging any unnecessary police reports like this. Especially since the courts in Malaysia have another 1 million cases in backlog. Why add more to that list?

Do something constructive. Start the investigations on the people involved. Stop lodging reports on the press just because they have “upset” you people.



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