(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should be represented by counsel at the Commission of Inquiry into Anwar Ibrahim’s "black eye" and Anwar’s counsel should have the right to assist the Commission by questioning witnesses.
This will overcome concerns expressed in an article in The Sun today under the title "Hard task ahead for Commission of Inquiry" that a public inquiry will not be as fruitful as a closed inquiry. Former Federal Court judge Tan Sri Harun Hashim and now dean of the law faculty at the International Islamic University has argued that if the inquiry is conducted in a closed hearing without any distractions, then it is more likely to get to the root of the matter.
He says: "If the inquiry is open to the public, you may not get the entire picture. But, if it is a closed-door hearing, the witnesses are likely to be more forthcoming in their testimonies.
"The questions from the panel can also be more direct and probing."
Harun, who had served on a commission of inquiry, cites the case of the open inquiry into the Butterworth jetty tragedy in 1988 which he felt hindered the panel’s work.
The panel, he says, refrained at times from asking certain questions in the presence of the media for fear that it may be unduly highlighted the following day.
The holding of a closed inquiry into police assault of Anwar while under police custody is not only against the principle of accountability but will destroy all public confidence in the independence, impartiality and professionalism of the Commission of Inquiry after after more than four months of government foot-dragging on the issue.
The concerns expressed by Tan Sri Harun Hashim can be resolved by allowing Anwar to be represented by counsel who have the right to question witnesses to assist the Commission of Inquiry.