"I Only Got To Know Lingam Recently," Says Dr Mahathir

January 17, 2008 13:57 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad testified Thursday that only recently he came to know lawyer Datuk V. K. Lingam who is implicated in a video clip showing him allegedly brokering appointment of judges.

The former prime minister dismissed claims that prominent businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun had on several occasions brought Lingam to his house when he was the prime minister.

"That is not true," said Dr Mahathir to a question by the Malaysian Bar representative Christopher Leong who referred to some passages of the conversation in the video clip to the former premier, implying that Lingam had occasionally gone to his (Dr Mahathir's) house.

Leong: Do you know V. K. Lingam?

Dr Mahathir: I've heard about him in the newspapers involving several cases. I only got to know him recently when I engaged his services in a civil suit filed against me by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Dr Mahathir, however, told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip, that Lingam has been to his house after he was no longer the prime minister and after the conversation in the video tape took place.

"After I engaged Lingam (as counsel) to represent me in the civil suit, then only he (Lingam) has been to my house," he testified on the fourth day of the inquiry.

To Leong's question on whether Vincent Tan had introduced Lingam to him, Dr Mahathir replied that he would not be able to say precisely, but added that in order for him to contact Lingam, he probably spoke to Vincent.

On why he chose Lingam to represent him in the legal suit, Dr Mahathir said he thought Lingam would be a good candidate.

He admitted that Lingam was still his counsel.

Asked on whether he had seen the video clip, Dr Mahathir said: "I watched it on TV."

Dr Mahathir was also questioned on his relationship with Vincent Tan.

He admitted that they were friends.

"Yes, I know him (Vincent Tan). I have relationship with him for many years. I know him very well," he said.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry was set up to ascertain, among others, the authenticity of a video clip featuring a lawyer allegedly brokering judicial appointments with a senior judge.

The five-member panel comprises chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor, who was former Chief Judge of Malaya, former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong, retired court of appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar, former solicitor-general Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and historian Prof Emeritus Dr Khoo Kay Khim.