A High Court Judge's Severe Indictment Of Dr Mahathir
He made the stunning allegation at the start of proceedings on Monday when hearing an election petition filed by Wong Hus She, the defeated DAP candidate for the Sarikei parliamentary seat, the Borneo Post reported.
Anticipating a motion for his recusal, Chin took the "step to disclose what the parties and counsel may not be aware of but which they may later complain that I should have disclosed".
Wong lost the Sarikei seat to Barisan Nasional's Ding Kuong Hing by 51 votes. Both sides did not object to Chin as the presiding judge, the Borneo Post reported.
He referred to two cases he had presided over in February 1997 - a libel suit and an election petition - the decisions with which the then prime minister was apparently displeased, he said.
He said Dr Mahathir had gone to the judges' conference about a month later "to issue a thinly veiled threat to remove judges by referring to the tribunal that was set up before".
From May 26 until 30, he was "packed off to boot camp" for lessons on taking the government line in judicial decisions.
Last month, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip castigated Dr Mahathir for going against the Constitution in appointing judges and called for an investigation into Dr Mahathir.
According to the notes of proceedings made available to the New Straits Times, Chin said in the libel suit: "I distinguished M.G.G. Pillai v Tan Sri Datuk Vincent Tan Chee Yioun & Other Appeals (1995) 2 MLJ 493 and refused to give what I consider to be an astronomical award for damage to reputation in libel cases".
In the election petition, he had set aside the victory of BN's Mong Dagang in the 1996 state polls in the Bukit Begunan seat.
Chin said Dr Mahathir had "expressed unhappiness" over the decision. "After he was done with issuing that threat, he then proceeded to express his view that people should pay heavily for libel.
He managed to get a single response from a Court of Appeal judge who asked whether he would be happy with a sum of RM1 million as damages for libel. He approved of it and he later on made known his satisfaction by promoting this judge (since deceased) to the Federal Court over many others who were senior to him when a vacancy arose."
Chin said he was "devastated" by what went on but was consoled by fellow judges who remarked "the prime minister was too much".
"It will be recalled that the prime minister not long after he assumed office had said, in a much publicised campaign against corruption, that he will put the fear of God in man but this apparently, given his diatribe in that conference, changed to instilling a fear of him if any judgment is to his dislike."
He said the "boot camp" he attended with selected judges and judicial officers was "an attempt to indoctrinate those attending to hold the view that the government's interest" was "more important than all else when we are considering our judgments".
"Stating this devilish notion was no less a person than the president of the Court of Appeal," he said.
"The perversion of justice did not stop there. My brother judge (Datuk Muhammad) Kamil Awang was one morning looking for me after clocking in. We were both then serving in Kuching.
"When I met him in his chambers, he was distraught and he told me about receiving a telephone call the night before from the chief justice asking him to dismiss the election petition that he was going to hear in Kota Kinabalu.
"He sought my opinion as to what to do about the telephone call. We went into the possibility of making a police report or of writing to the chief justice a letter to record what he had said over the telephone but in the end, he decided against it since it would be his word against that of the chief justice," Chin said.
"I was happy to learn later on that he did not bow to the pressure by the chief justice and went on to hear the petition and thereafter, making a decision based on the law and evidence."
Chin also declared that he had twice stood unsuccessfully for election as a BN candidate in the 1980s, in one of which he lost to the DAP. He had also heard other election petitions.
"Now, though no longer the prime minister and so no longer able to carry out his threat to remove judges which should, therefore, dispel any fear which any judge may have of him, if ever there was such fear, nevertheless the coalition party that he led is still around and the second respondent won on a ticket of that coalition party and it may cross someone's mind that I may have an axe to grind against the party concerned or any member thereof.
"The petitioner in this case may also have a similar view with regard to my defeat by a candidate standing on the ticket of the party to which he belongs. So I wish to hear from the parties as to whether they entertain any such notion and whether they wish to apply for my recusal so that, if any, I can make a decision thereon.
"After this disclosure, litigants who were affected by the hundreds of judgments that I handed down since those infamous days may justifiably worry as to whether any of my judgments were in any way influenced by this attempt to hang the Sword of Damocles over my head.
"No amount of words from me would assuage you of your worry; you will have to read my judgments as to whether they are according to the evidence and the law or whether they were influenced by threat."
Chin then adjourned for half an hour to let the parties consider an application for his recusal.
None, however, was made.
Datuk Ian Chin was appointed judicial commissioner on Feb 26, 1992 and since then has served in the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak. He is, at present, a resident judge at the High Court in Kota Kinabalu. (NST)
***** This revelation by Mr Justice Ian Chin is another nail strongly driven into the coffin of Dr Mahathir's reputation and decades old despotic rule. Many are the allegations that have been made against the former PM but remarkably he has escaped totally unscathed and has been never held accountable for the numerous acts of commission and omission during his tenure. Now he has the gall to blame everyone else except himself!