SHAH ALAM (July 7): The presiding judicial commissioner in the RM150 million lawsuit brought against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has recused herself from the case due to her family ties with Anwar’s lawyer, Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi.
At a case management at the High Court here on Friday (July 7), Anwar’s lead counsel Matthew Thomas Phillip raised an application before Judicial Commissioner Jamhirah Ali that she was related to Aliff.
Matthew then requested that Jamhirah recuse herself from hearing the case to avoid issues of conflict. Mahathir’s lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali did not object to the application for recusal.
Jamhirah proceeded to do so and said it is done to avoid conflict and in the interest of justice.
She then set July 21 for case management. A new judge will also be appointed then to preside over the matter.
The proceedings on Friday came after Mahathir filed his statement of reply on Thursday (July 6), where the former prime minister described Anwar as a pathological liar, saying Anwar had been making allegations of nepotism and cronyism against Mahathir for over two decades but had yet to show any evidence to back his claims.
“Since 1998, until the filing of his (Anwar’s) defence, the defendant has never shown any evidence of purported abuse of power or nepotism by the plaintiff (Mahathir). There is only repetition after repetition of his political slander script against me.
“Hence, the defendant (Anwar) has directly and indirectly shown that he is a liar,” Mahathir said in the statement.
In the June 23 notice, the 97-year-old politician asked Anwar to provide 21 documents in which Anwar had made the allegations of nepotism and cronyism in an affidavit.
In their reply on June 27, however, Anwar’s solicitors from Messrs Thomas Philip objected to the notice, saying that some of the documents that Mahathir had asked for were not referred to in Anwar’s defence, and that the notice asking for the documents seemed vague, imprecise and amounted to a fishing expedition.
The former prime minister said Anwar’s action of not providing evidence to support the allegations of nepotism and cronyism, showed he had acted in bad faith against Mahathir.
Prior to this, Anwar had stated in his defence that Mahathir had abused his position as then prime minister and finance minister and that his (Anwar’s) allegations about the wealth of the former prime minister are true, in reference to the bailing out of Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd, a company owned by Mahathir’s son Mirzan Mahathir, in 1997 by Petronas and Malaysia International Shipping Corporation.
Anwar also cited the awarding of Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s contract to Opcom Cables Sdn Bhd, a company in which Mirzan and two other sons of the former prime minister — Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir — were directors, as another example.
He had highlighted Kencana Capital — a company set up by Mokhzani in 2001 and was later known as Kencana Petroleum Bhd and now SE Petroleum Bhd — and how it was awarded a major fabrication licence in 2002 even though it was newly incorporated at the time.
Mahathir filed the RM150 million defamation suit against Anwar in May over a speech the PKR president made at the PKR Congress in March this year, about “a leader of 22 years and 22 months” that had enriched his family.