KUALA LUMPUR (May 23): Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas made sure that the judge hearing an application to cite senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for contempt would not know the contents of an exonerating letter written by Shafee, the High Court here was told today.
Lawyer David Mathews, acting for Shafee, said that Thomas wanted to cite Shafee for contempt by gaining ex-parte leave, so he ensured that the judge hearing the application would not know the contents of the exonerating letter and statements made by the lawyer on Aug 8 last year.
Mathews was giving reasons why the ex-parte order issued by the High Court on March 1 to commit Shafee to prison for contempt should be set aside.
He stressed that the AG should include all relevant information for consideration by the court in deciding whether leave to commence committal proceedings should be allowed.
“However, the AG wilfully concealed from the court the contents of a letter written by Shafee to the CJM (Chief Judge of Malaya) dated August 8, 2018, and also statements made by Shafee on the same day in open court,” he added.
The copies of the letter were sent to High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who is presiding over former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, Mathews said.
He said his client repeatedly expressed confidence in Justice Nazlan in presiding over the SRC case in the letter.
The AG’s failure to disclose the exonerating letter and statements amount to wilful suppression and non-disclosure of material facts, he said.
“Had the court been appraised of the presence of the exonerating letter and statements, we submit that the ex-parte order would not have been granted as Shafee had expressly voiced his confidence in Justice Nazlan,” he said.
Mathews submitted further that the precise question posed by a reporter to Shafee during the press conference after Najib’s SRC trial on Feb 7 that led to the answer which was being objected to is conspicuously absent from the AG’s application.
“This omission would cause the words in the answer to be deprived of the true context in which they were made and would lead to a distorted interpretation of the same.
“We submit that the reporter’s question was deliberately concealed from the statement to give the misleading impression that the words were uttered deliberately and with intent as alleged in the statement,” Mathews said.
He added that when Najib’s SRC case was called up before Justice Nazlan on Feb 12, which was five days after Shafee’s utterance, there were no complaints or allegation raised before Justice Nazlan by the AG or his officers from the Attorney General Chambers.
Thomas made an ex-parte application to the High Court in February to initiate committal proceedings against Shafee over his media statement in relation to Najib’s SRC case. Shafee was named as the sole defendant.
In the application, Thomas said Shafee is an advocate and solicitor representing Najib, who has been charged in the High Court with several offences related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.
After the court proceedings on Feb 7 involving Najib, Shafee was interviewed by several journalists outside the courtroom, and the interview was recorded by a videographer from Kinitv.com and uploaded on KiniTV, which is accessible via https://m.kinitv.com/video/70311O8.
Thomas claimed that Shafee knew or ought to have known that the offensive statement was contemptuous to the judge and would undermine the administration of justice and public confidence in the judicial system in Malaysia.
He said Shafee also ought to have known that the offensive statement would clearly place the trial judge in an embarrassing situation and create a state of uncertainty about the fair and just determination of the criminal case.
He claimed that the words were deliberately uttered and with intent by Shafee in an attempt to pressure and influence the decision in that criminal case.
Thomas contended that the offensive statement, made right after the proceedings involving the accused, had only one meaning and was intended to bring disrepute to the courts and judges and that it would undermine the administration of justice and public confidence in the judicial system in Malaysia.
Thomas said considering the words in their entirety, the public would reasonably perceive that, if the accused were to be convicted, the trial judge was not straight, the judge was influenced, the witnesses were coached and the evidence was fabricated.
The hearing of the submission by Mathews continues before High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Firuz Jaffril on Monday.