Attorney-General should open investigations as to  whether  Mahathir should be prosecuted for  committing  two contempt of court offences in his statements in New York which undermine the administration of justice and  seriously prejudice a fair trial for Anwar Ibrahim

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah should open investigations as to whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should be prosecuted for committing two contempt of court offences in his statements in New York which undermine the administration of justice and seriously prejudice a fair trial for former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In the first instance, in his interview with the Public Broadcast Station in New York on Monday, Mahathir said Anwar  was "my very good friend, my heir apparent" and that he had "placed a lot of expectations on him until I discovered he is a homosexual who has actually pretended to be a very religious person in order to gain credibility".

Anwar is presently being tried for sodomy and for the Prime Minister to publicly declare that he had "discovered" that Anwar was a homosexual is nothing less than an attempt to influence judicial decision in the current trial of Anwar, which is not only a gross interference with the administration of justice but clearly prejudicial to the holding of a fair trial for Anwar.

Mahathir has in fact put Judge Datuk Arifin Jaka, the High Court judge presiding over Anwar’s sodomy trial, in the invidious position of openly contradicting and incurring the Prime Minister’s wrath if his judgment is at variance with the Prime Minister’s "discovery" and public statement in New York.

If this is not contempt of court, I do not know what is, and the Attorney-General must prove that he would uphold the law, without fear or favour, even if the person who had infringed the law holds the high office of the Prime Minister.

The second contempt of court which Mahathir had committed   was in his interview with the Asian Wall Street Journal in New York where he said that the general election may only be held after the end of Anwar’s sodomy trial.

Mahathir said this was because he courts had limited what he could say about the former Deputy Prime Minister while the trial was underway and this may cost him votes.

This statement is also highly prejudicial to the holding of  a fair trial for Anwar because it constitutes a clear indication to the courts that the Prime Minister wants Anwar’s sodomy trial to be speedily completed so that he could hold the general election and  would not be "limited" in what he could say about Anwar.

I do not know whether  Mahathir is only thinking of the High Court stage of Anwar’s sodomy trial, or  all appeal process whether at the Court of Appeal or Federal Court stage, to be completed before calling a general election as the court ban limiting public comment relating to the substance of Anwar’s charge should continue to apply until the entire judicial process had been exhausted.

However, regardless of whether Mahathir is referring only to the High Court trial of Anwar’s sodomy charges or the whole appeal process, his comments can only be construed as sending a clear message to the High Court judge, Datuk Arifin Jaka to speed up and complete the Anwar sodomy trial - which is an intolerable and contemptuous interference with the administration of justice.

As chief law officer of the government,  Mohtar Abdullah should explain whether he had advised the Prime Minister not to make any prejudicial or contemptuous statements affecting a fair trial for Anwar, or whether the Prime Minister is protected from contempt proceedings for making these comments outside the country.

The Attorney-General cannot continue to keep mum about  serious infringements of  the law by top leaders in government and should hold himself accountable to the Malaysian public   for his decisions whether or not to prosecute them for high crimes and offences.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong