VK Lingam ordered to be present to face contempt charge

VK-LingamPUTRAJAYA: Former lawyer VK Lingam, who has been skipping court since 2013 to answer his contempt charge, has been ordered to be present before the Federal Court on Nov 8.

A five-man bench, chaired by Suryadi Halim Omar, said the trial would go on even without the attendance of Lingam, whose whereabouts are unclear.

Suryadi had initially wanted to proceed with the trial but lawyer R Thayalan informed the bench that he had no instruction to appear for Lingam.

“I have no instruction to represent him in his absence,” said the lawyer, who later discharged himself from representing Lingam, who was implicated in a judicial fixing by a royal commission of inquiry in 2007.

Thayalan said he would inform Lingam of the trial date.

Suriyadi said the court had also made a finding of fact that Lingam’s medical report from a United States hospital was forged.

Thayalan had earlier submitted the May 10, 2017 medical report as instructed by the court.

The lawyer said Lingam was unfit to travel long distance as he was suffering from a hip fracture and back pain.

Earlier, government lawyer Amarjeet Singh informed the court that a search with the Immigration Department today showed Lingam renewed his passport in London on June 14 this year.

Amarjeet said Lingam left Malaysia on Dec 23, 2013 and there was no record of him returning.

Suryadi said it could also mean that Lingam was always in London and not in the United States.

In another related development, Lim Ah Seng, Siew Siew Hua and Doris See Siew Lian were fined RM100,000 each after the court accepted their guilty plea in their absence through lawyer David Gurupatham.

The trio are the last of the original group of 24 people charged with contempt.

Lingam had appeared for them in a civil suit but later was charged with contempt for claiming that a Federal Court bench had plagiarised its judgment in a commercial case.

The contempt proceedings came about after 24 shareholders of a family-owned company filed a review against the decision of the Federal Court in favour of two liquidators in 2012.

Last November, 21 others and a lawyer were fined a total of RM2.15 million.

Lawyer TC Nayagam was slapped with a RM150,000 fine while the rest were fined RM100,000 each.

The contempt proceedings have been adjourned numerous times since 2012, especially due to the absence of Lingam.

On Aug 23, 2013, Lingam and the rest failed to set aside their contempt charge as the court ruled there was a prima facie case against them.

Trial was then set for Dec 8, 2013 but Lingam still did not turn up as he was seeking a full hip replacement.

Following his continued absence, the court fixed Nov 21, 2016 as the final chance for Lingam to appear before them. But Lingam again did not turn up.

The government took over the contempt proceedings by the liquidators against Lingam, former Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd (KJCF) group managing director See Teow Chuan and 23 others, who were the majority and minority contributories of Kian Joo Holdings Sdn Bhd (KJH).

Initially, all 24 were represented by Lingam.

KJH liquidators Ooi Woon Chee and Ng Kim Tuck were the original applicants, but withdrew the contempt charges against Lingam and the rest.

The legal dispute that led to the contempt proceedings began in 2009 when one of the respondents went to the High Court after a rival company, Can-One International Sdn Bhd, won the tender to purchase a 32.9% stake in KJFC.

The respondents failed in the High Court to stop Can-One from acquiring the shares.

However, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision.

The case was then taken to the Federal Court where a three-member panel of judges ruled in favour of the liquidators in 2012.

The respondents then filed a review, citing plagiarism in the court’s written judgment. However, it was dismissed by the Federal Court.

The then chief justice Arifin Zakaria said the three-man bench did not blindly adopt the submissions of the liquidators’ counsel, but only used 70 of the 189 paragraphs.