Yesterday, Muhammad Kamil said that the Likas election petitions were brought to his court in mid-1999, following the Sabah state general elections on 13th March 1999.
He said that after many preliminary objections were raised by the lawyers, he announced on September 24, 1999 that he was setting aside technical objections in favour of justice.
Muhammad Kamil said: “That started it. That’s when the phone call came.”
He said he told the caller, who had identified himself, to "drop me a note for that" but it never came. The hearing of the petitions then began on Sept 27, 1999.
Muhammad Kamil said he had disclosed the identity of the person to Chief Justice Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah and related the incident to several other judges in Sabah and Sarawak at that time, as they had confided in him that they had also received similar directives from the same person on election petitions before them. There were three other election judges in the two States.
He said: “They asked for my view. I told them to ask their conscience. My allegance is not to human beings but to God.”
Muhammad Kamil has made it very clear that the person responsible for the telephone directive was his judicial superior, narrowing the circle of possibility as he had only three judicial superiors at the time - the Chief Justice Tun Mohamad Eusoff Chin, President of the Court of Appeal Tan Sri Lamin Yunus and the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Chong Siew Fai.
When asked by reporters yesterday if the person was Eusoff “as widely speculated”, he said: "I can't confirm it", adding "Most of the lawyers make a guess and everybody seems to be guessing well."
Lamin has denied that he had ever issued any directive to Muhammad Kamil, stating that High Court matters were not under his jurisdiction.
As both the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi have both publicly denied being the person who issued the telephone directive, and as Muhammad Kamil has pinpointed the person as one of his superiors in the judicial hierarchy at the time, the time has come for Eusoff Chin to immediately clear himself or admit to having made the telephone directive to Muhammad Kamil, which constituted a blatant obstruction with the administration of justice.
The Cabinet tomorrow should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Judicial Independence which would also investigate into Justice Muhammad’s shocking expose of telephone directive from a judicial superior to strike out the Likas election petitions without a hearing as well as similar directives to other election judges in Sabah and Sarawak.
Such a Royal Commission of Inquiry should investigate into all cases and causes for the undermining of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary in the past decade.
I would urge the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim to formally propose such a Royal Commission of Inquiry at the Cabinet tomorrow to demonstrate the government’s seriousness and commitment to support the new Chief Justice in his mission to restore public confidence in the judiciary.