(Ipoh, Friday): Although former Chief Justice Tun Eusoff Chin has admitted that he was the caller who telephoned the Sabah election judge Justice Muhammad Kamil Awang in September 1999, he denied that he had ¡°directed¡± the judge to strike out the Likas election petitions without a hearing.
New Straits Times in an exclusive frontpage report on Wednesday
¡°KUALA LUMPUR, Tues.- Retired Chief Justice Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin today said he had called High Court judge Datuk Muhammad Kamil Awang over the Likas election petition, but never told him to strike it out without a hearing. Insisting that their conversation had been entirely misconstrued, he said he would have been ¡®mad¡¯ to direct a judge to strike out a case without giving the parties a hearing.
"¡¯How can I give such an instruction when I don't know the detailed facts of the case? The file is not with me¡¯, he told the New Straits Times.¡±
Eusoff said that he had called Muhammad Kamil ¡°with good intentions, with the aim of getting the judge to speed up hearing the election petition¡±, as the Likas petition ¡°was taking even longer than those filed much later, though it was a policy that election petitions should be given priority because of public interest¡±.
He said he drew Muhammad Kamil¡¯s attention to two relevant cases decided in 1964 and 1966 by Tan Sri Steve Shim (now Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak) and Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamed (now Court of Appeal judge) respectively, which decided that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the correctness of the electoral roll.
As these two cases were the judgements of two High Court judges which were not binding on other High Court judges, and it is up to Muhammad Kamil to decide whether to follow or to disagree with the two judgements, Eusoff had acted most improperly, tantamout to obstructing and tampering with the administration of justice in his telephone call to the election judge.
On Eusoff¡¯s own admission alone, the Attorney-General, Datuk Ainum Saaid should prosecute the former Chief Justice for obstruction with the course of justice to demonstrate that there is a just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary where no one, including a Chief Justice, is above the law.