The Lingam Tape:Businessman goes public
Posted January 12, 2008on:
|K Kabilan & Steven Gan | Jan 12, 08 11:32pm|
|Businessman Loh Mui Fah today disclosed that it was his son who had recorded the Lingam tape, finally putting to rest the question of the controversial clip’s authenticity.
The grainy 14-minute clip, made public last September, depicted lawyer VK Lingam having a phone conversation on the appointment of friendly judges with ex-chief justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
However, Loh was quick to point out that he did not release the video clip to PKR, the opposition party which exposed the controversial clip.
“It could have been my son, or my lawyers or any of my staff,” he told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview at a secret location in Kuala Lumpur tonight.
“The phone conversation took place in late December 2001,” said the 58-year-old businessman, who also claimed that he was going public now because he fears for his life.
Loh said that he and his son were at Lingam’s house for dinner and when he asked the lawyer who it was that he was talking to on the phone and Lingam said it was Ahmad Fairuz.
Malaysiakini met Loh at his lawyer’s 9th floor posh apartment in an upmarket residency in the city.
Wearing a light blue collarless shirt with a black jacket and a pair of shades, Loh said that he was not aware that his son, Jwo Burne, 27, had made the recording.
“My son had a powerful camera which had recording facilities. He was taking photographs of Lingam, his house, his dog and all. I was not even aware that he had recorded Lingam’s phone conversation,” said Loh, who was coy about his business ventures apart from saying that it involved IT and forestry.
He said that he was only aware of the existence of the video clip after it was released to the public by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The clip, said Loh, was made on Dec 21, 2001 when both father and son visited Lingam to discuss a legal matter.
Recorded with high-end camera
He said that he had known Lingam from the mid-90s and had sought legal advice from the lawyer every now and then.
“But he was always busy, having no time to attend to our matter. So he invited us for dinner to his house so that we can discuss our matter,” he said, without disclosing what legal issues they were to discuss.
Sipping a glass of red wine, Loh said that he was at Lingam’s house from 7pm to 11pm that day, adding that even then the lawyer was constantly on the telephone.
“He had so many incoming calls. And then, there was this phone call… my son was taking photographs and when Lingam ended the call, I asked him who it was, to which he said ‘Ahmad Fairuz’,” said Loh.
“My son and I had no idea that he was talking to Ahmad Fairuz. My son had no intention or knowledge of whom he was talking to. Only at the end of the call, when I asked, we knew it was Ahmad Fairuz.”
He said that he was “not pleased” when he discovered that his son had recorded the phone call. He was also similarly “not pleased to see it released publicly”.
“I don’t know who released it to PKR. I didn’t give it to them, I also did not consent for it to be released,” he said.
His entire interview with Malaysiakini was also recorded by a member of his staff using a camera.
When pressed further if he knew who released the video clip, Loh merely said that it could be anyone – from his son to a member of his staff.
“It is best for my son to answer as to why he taped it and if he released the video clip,” he said, adding that Jwo Burne was however currently working in Shanghai, China.
“No, I didn’t ask him if he released the tape…,” said Loh.
Loh added that Jwo Burne, the eldest of three boys, was willing to come and testify at the royal commission which will kick off its inquiry into the Lingam tape on Monday.
‘But he must be duly informed and given sufficient notice,” he said in the interview which lasted for about 70 minutes.
Loh himself is also willing to appear before the royal commission to confirm that the conversation which Lingam had on the telephone did take place.
“I can confirm that, but I have no way of ascertaining that it was Ahmad Fairuz at the other end. I have only what Lingam told me,” he said.
However, he said he had yet to be called to appear before the commission.
Loh also said that he was approached by PKR seeking his support for the video clip but revealed that he was not eager to help them.
“I was reluctant. I didn’t agree with it. Also why get involved in it. I told them to leave me alone,” he said.
He also added that PKR did not tell him of how and through whom they got the video clip.
Loh further said that after the recording was made public, Lingam had written to him, seeking a meeting.
“I disagreed to go to his office. Apart from the letters, I have not spoken to him at all,” he said.
The Lingam tape sparked a public uproar and called into question the integrity of the judiciary. The government in December formed a five-member royal commission to probe into the matter.
When the phone conversation took place, Ahmad Fairuz was the Chief Judge of Malaya, the judiciary No 3 post. He recently retired as the country’s top judge.