PUTRAJAYA: A Court of Appeal judge has recused herself from hearing former attorney-general Apandi Ali’s appeal on the dismissal of his libel lawsuit against Lim Kit Siang over an article published by the DAP veteran in 2019.
Justice Hanipah Farikullah said she should not hear the case, having in 2016 decided several applications by individuals to commence judicial review against Apandi over his decision not to charge Najib Razak over 1MDB-related matters.
She said Apandi’s appeal raises issues similar to those raised in the judicial review applications.
“Justice must not only be done but seen to be done,” Hanipah said.
Sitting with her on the panel were Justices Gunalan Muniandy and Azmi Ariffin.
The appeals court is scheduled to hear Apandi’s appeal on Sept 4.
The appeal was filed after the High Court dismissed Apandi’s lawsuit against Lim last year, saying that the DAP veteran’s article titled “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia is on the road to integrity” was not defamatory.
In the suit, Apandi had alleged that the former Iskandar Puteri MP’s statement depicted him as someone who was immoral and unethical, without integrity, and had practised double standards while holding the position of attorney-general.
Justice Azimah Omar, then a High Court judge, said Lim proved his defence of fair comment and qualified privilege.
“It is well known that calls to investigate and charge those involved in the 1MDB scandal have been made through the proper channels for many years.
“A task force involving the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission), police and AGC (attorney-general’s chambers) was set up to investigate and make appropriate recommendations on 1MDB.
“It is apparent that this complaint (on wrongdoing) to proper channels had fallen on deaf ears, until the fall of Barisan Nasional (BN),” she had said.
Azimah pointed out that Lim was justified in questioning Apandi’s refusal to act on 1MDB.
“Indeed, the plaintiff’s (Apandi) action and inaction seemed to have assisted 1MDB and those (purportedly) involved.
“The defendant (Lim) had concrete evidence to justify his statement, and the evidence gave reasonable grounds to investigate the plaintiff for cover-ups in 1MDB,” she said.
The court noted that during the defence’s cross-examination of Apandi, the former AG admitted that it was “imperative” to seek mutual legal assistance from foreign countries on the 1MDB probe.
“As an AG, he must be proactive, fearless and act rigorously to ensure that no crimes are left unchecked,” Azimah said.