Bar Council President Sulaiman Abdullah said that the Council’s then vice-president R.R. Chelvarajah and then secretary Mah Weng Kwai met Eusoff in early 1988 when the holiday photographs which showed Eusoff and Datuk V.K. Lingam in New Zealand surfaced on the Internet.
Chelvarajah and Mah had asked Eusoff to disqualify himself from hearing the appeal in Datuk Param Cumaraswamy’s case as Lingam was appearing as counsel for the two MBf companies suing Param for libel.
The Chief Justice had told them he would consider the matter and he later informed Das, who was then the council president, that he would not hear any matter where Lingam was appearing.
Eusoff had told the media on Tuesday that he had coincidentally "bumped" into Lingam when holidaying in New Zealand and that the photographs were taken at Lingam’s request.
According to the Star (June 7, 2000), Eusoff said:
"I was very happy because when you are in a foreign country, when you meet a fellow countryman, even though you never knew him, you will feel very happy.
"I was going to the zoo and he asked ‘Could I tag along?’".
Two questions arise here to which Malaysians are entitled to an answer from Eusoff, in accordance with the principles of accountability, viz:
Firstly, did he tell Chelvarajah and Mah Weng Kwai in their meeting in early 1998 that he "coincidentally bumped" into Lingam when holidaying in New Zealand, and secondly, why he agreed not to hear any matter where Lingam was appearing since he had denied "socialising" with Lingam by holidaying together in New Zealand in 1994?
If Eusoff concedes that his hearing any matter where Lingam is a counsel could lead to prejudice of the administration of justice, then is he prepared to order an independent review of all previous cases and judgements where Lingam had appeared before him as a counsel?
Referring to Eusoff’s statement that former Bar Council President Datuk Dr. Cyrus Das was "satisfied" when shown copies of credit card receipts and bills to prove that he had paid for his New Zealand holiday, Sulaiman said Das was no longer Bar Council president at the time.
He said in 1999, Das had met Eusoff several times over preparations for the Commonwealth Law Conference and special programme for Chief Justices later that year. At one of these meetings, the Chief Justice indicated a large stack of credit card documents and bills on his table and said something to the effect that those documents would show that he had paid for his holiday. Das politely advised the Chief Justice to keep the documents safety and as he was no longer the president, he did not report this to the council.
A third question arises here. Why didn’t Eusoff show Chelvarajah and Mah Weng Kwai in early 1998 the credit card receipts and bills for his New Zealand holiday to convince the Bar Council officials that there was no basis for their complaint that he disqualify himself from hearing the appeal in Param’s case?
The fourth question is whether Eusoff had shown the credit card receipts
and bills to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) during ACA investigations
into the "poison-pen letter" by a High Court judge in 1995
as Eusoff had said on Tuesday that his holiday trip to New Zealand in 1994
had been investigated and cleared by the ACA. Can the Anti-Corruption
Agency confirmed that it had investigated and cleared Eusoff of all improprieties
in connection with the New Zealand holiday in 1994, as claimed by Eusoff
in the following Sun report (June 7, 2000):
"He said he, through the Attorney-General, had invited the authorities to investigate all judges named in the letter.
""The ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) confronted me with the allegation. I showed them the receipts. Nobody paid for the trip. I paid them all myself,’ he said."
The fifth question is whether Eusoff had ever told Das, Chelvarajah or Mah Weng Kwai that the ACA had investigated and cleared him of all improprieties in connection with his New Zealand holiday in 1994.
Yesterday, veteran journalist MGG Pillai put up an Internet posting challenging Eusoff’s claim that he had "bumped" into Lingam in New Zealand, making very serious allegations as well as giving particulars that Eusoff and Lingam had travelled together on the same New Zealand Airways flight NZ73 from Singapore to Auckland on business class on 22nd December 1994 and on Flight NZ1541 between Auckland and Christchurch later that day.
In the era of information technology, it has been said that a human year is about five Internet years. A human day or five Internet days have passed but there has been no rebuttal or response from Eusoff to the very serious allegations by Pillai.
The Barisan Alternative, with 42 MPs and 113 Assemblymen, should ask
for the resignation of Eusoff Chin as Chief Justice if he is not prepared
to rebut MGG Pillai’s serious allegations, including that he had travelled
together on the same flights for the New Zealand holidays with Lingam
in December 1994 Malaysians cannot afford to allow our system of justice
to continue to be the laughing stock of the world and the butt of
scathing reports not only by the international legal and judicial community
like the recent damning indictment "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia
2000" but also by eminent Malaysians as reflected in the comment
by the highly-regarded former Lord President Tun Suffian who recently said:
I will be discussing with other leaders of the Barisan Alternative on the latest developments on the system of justice in Malaysia.