By: Choo Sing Chye
In early March 1996, a poison-pen pamphlet breaks headlines. This 1996 case was followed closely by the whole nation but it ends up with a non-climax with everybody living happily ever after, until Lingam’s controversy broke lose.
On the 1st of July, High Court Judge Datuk Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid resigned, according the SUN report , Tan Sri Mohd Eusoff Chin said that this was the first time a High Court Judge had resigned.
The SUN in their report revealed that the poison-pen pamphlet contained 33 pages. In them, there were 112 allegations against 12 judges. Twenty-one are allegations pertaining to the abuse of power, 39 of corruption and 52 of misconduct, immorality and personal attacks.
The findings was the culmination of a 3 months probe by the ACA and police. According to the SUN (10-7-96), report: the A-G said that "all judges mentioned in the pamphlet, including the Chief Justice of the Federal Court Tan Sri Eusoff Chin, were questioned." He told the press that the case was now closed and that no further action would be taken against the judge identified as responsible for the pamphlet had since resigned.
Sun (10 – 7 – 96)
Press statement issued by the late A-G Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah in Kuala Lumpur on the issue of poison-pen pamphlets involving the judiciary:
A police report, was lodged by the Deputy Registrar of the Federal Court on the 14th March 1996 in relation to the publication and circulation of poison pen pamphlets against the Judiciary.
Pursuant to the police report, I directed a full and thorough police investigation. At the same time, I also directed the ACA to launch as investigation to ascertain whether there is any truth in respect of the allegations of corrupt practice among certain judges in the poison-pen pamphlets
The Police have completed their investigations in respect of the authorship of the poison-pen pamphlets and have submitted the investigation papers to my Chambers.
I have studied the investigation papers carefully and I am satisfied that the following facts have been revealed by the said police investigation:
The poison-pen pamphlet contained highly seditious, defamatory, derisive allegations against certain judges inclusive of the use of the words "sow", "ham" and "ball-carriers" to describe judges.
This attempt to put the Judiciary in disrepute and to smear the good name of the judges has bee effectively put to a halt… The author of the pamphlet has been positively identified and has now resigned.
The said investigations and the resignation have effectively concluded the issue and cleared the judiciary.
My decision is made solely in the public interest and in the public interest and in the interest of justice.
Both the ACA and police have carried out comprehensive investigations concerning the truth or otherwise of the allegations contained in the pamphlets and have submitted their investigation papers to my chambers.
The allegations directed at certain judges are of corruption, abuse of power and misconduct. Both the ACA and the police were able to do comprehensive investigations into these allegations as a result of the full cooperation of the judges.
All the judges mentioned in the pamphlets including the Chief Justice have been interviewed by the authorities.
My officers and I have perused thoroughly the investigation papers of the ACA and the police and we are satisfied that the allegations contained in the pamphlets are wholly untrue and baseless.
I have decided that no further action is necessary in view of the independent comprehensive investigations carried out both by the ACA and the police.
Consequently, I hope that the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary shall not be doubted and questioned henceforth.
A-G’s interview with the SUN, 10-7-96
Q: In the investigation you have admitted that the pamphlet contained highly seditious, defamatory and derisive allegations and yet you are not taking action. Can you explain why no action taken against the judge who wrote the pamphlets?
A-G : Sometimes the prosecution has to make decision, based on the statements received, whether to prosecute or not. Even though there is sufficient evidence for prosecution of a person, in some circumstances the public prosecutor exercises his discretion not to prosecute the person concerned or the wrongdoer.
One of the normal matters, the normal thing that has been done in respect of public servants or some other persons holding high office is the resignation of the person concerned from the high office that he or she holds.
Because resignation from as office, like a judge’s office, is a matter that is so serious in nature it involves deprivation of your position and everything that goes with in (like) privileges, pay and other things like honour. So, sometimes the resignation or removal of a person from a particular office is itself a very strong punishment in the circumstances. That is just one factor of course, there are other factors.
Based on the evidence concerned, although we have identified the person, we have decided in the circumstances we would not prosecute the person concerned.
Q: Was the judge told that if he would resign, he would not be prosecuted?
A-G: No, The question here is whether it is just or not to do so. As I said, it depends on the various circumstances of the matter. This is not done specially for one person or another, this done as a matter of routine in various other circumstances. Not all cases investigated result in prosecution. Some cases do not result in prosecution because of lack of evidence or national interest or public factor that need to be taken into consideration.
In this particular case, the circumstances of all these things that have been discovered we have elected not to direct the prosecution.
Q: What was the judge’s reason in writing the pamphlet? If he meant it as a joke, it is not very funny.
A-G : It is not a joke. It definitely is not a joke. The person concerned has given a full statement to the police disclosing the reasons but I’m not in the position to disclose the reasons. But definitely the matter that has been done by him is something that is so serious as to warrant this full scale investigation and this has
resulted in the said judge electing to resign.
In these circumstances, we feel that no purpose is served by having further prosecution. Justice is done. Our most important consideration in this investigation is to see whether the allegations in the poison-pen pamphlets are true or not and for that we have already asked the police and in addition to the police we have asked the ACA to double-check on the these allegations.
In fact that is our main consideration to see if all any of the allegations were true. Maybe the person has achieved his intention by having the investigations carried out because of the flying letters. Be that as it may, we feel that it’s important that the contents of the allegations to be looked into and if true certain actions will have to be taken; If not true that the judiciary deserved to be cleared and to be given a clean bill of health in the light of all the rumours that have been spread about them.
Q: Did the judge resign on his own accord or was he given an option?
A-G: Well…based to the circumstances it is a question of opinion whether you think he resigned on his own accord or not.
Q: Tan Sri can you name the judge since you have already positively identified him?
A-G: Sir, you have been told that there is two, there is three. You Know arithmetic, you can add two and three. Do you want me to answer?
Q: Is it Syed Ahmad Idid?
A-G: As I said I have already stated there is two, there is three; you do your addition.
Q: Is the case closed?
A-G: As far as this case is concerned it is officially closed…
The SUN report 10-7-96:
Kuala Lumpur, Tues: The Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sri Mohamed Eusoff Chin is glad that the judiciary has been declared clean following investigations by the police and the ACA on the poison-pen pamphlet circulating in the legal circle.
He said the two agencies have done a through investigation to clear judges and have restored the good image of the judiciary.
"We will do our best to maintain the independence and integrity in order to gain public confidence," he said…….
(Above article is based on news reports and are cut short because of space constraint)