Mahathir will cooperate with court


Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday he was willing to cooperate with the justice system in an inquiry over possible offenses over the appointment of judges while he was in power. The government Friday ordered its chief prosecutor to investigate six people, including Mahathir and two retired top judges, for possible criminal offenses relating to the 2001 judicial scandal.

“I welcomed any move to investigate me but don’t give up half way and claim that there is no case against me,” Mahathir, 82, told a gathering in the southern state of Johor.

“I want to go all the way to the court,” said Mahathir, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power and turned a bitter critic of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his handpicked successor.

“Let me expose many other things in court. If I lose, I will accept whatever punishment,” he added.

An inquiry set up to investigate the scandal found on Friday that a prominent tycoon and a former government minister were involved in a covert campaign to influence judicial appointments seven years ago.

The inquiry’s 186-page report named tycoon Vincent Tan, who controls property-to-gaming conglomerate Berjaya Group and the then de facto law minister, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, and a lawyer known as V.K. Lingam, Mahathir and the two judges.

Asked to comment on the report, Abdullah said: “The report recommends several actions that must be taken to further improve the judicial system in our country and other actions that we must also consider.

“So the question what action the government should take is best left to the government to implement.”

The inquiry is seen as the boldest move yet by the government to clean up the judiciary, which has been under a pall since 1988 over its independence and integrity. The report comes two months after the ruling party suffered a blow at the general elections.

On Friday, the Malaysian Bar Council had called for thorough, fair and speedy investigations, which it said was crucial in the light of the evidence at the inquiry, “which showed that similar investigations had been previously closed by the authorities without further action.”