Tun Hamid’s ‘explanation’ of his meeting with MBf Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong, has raised more questions about judicial impropriety

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, in Penang on Sunday, April 24, 1994:

Tun Hamid’s ‘explanation’ of his meeting with MBf Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong, has raised more questions about judicial impropriety

The Lord President, Tun Hamid’s ‘explanation’ of his meeting with MBf Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong, who is the main litigant in the series of cases involving DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Wee Choo Keong, including the contempt case where Choo Keong had been sentenced to two years’ jail by Kula Lumpur High Court and which is under appeal to Supreme Court, has only raised more questions about judicial impropriety.

Tun Hamid insisted that there was nothing wrong with his private meeting with Loy, stating that Loy had called on him without an appointment, merely to extend birthday greetings and to congratulate him over the six-month extension of his services as Lord President.

Tun Hamid said that Loy’s visit was purely a social visit and that it had nothing to do with Wee Choo Keong’s cases with Loy, including the contempt case. The Lord President also said that he was not scheduled to hear Wee Choo Keong’s appeal at the Supreme Court sitting in Penang on May 9, and had Loy so.

The new questions about judicial impropriety which have been raised by Tun Hamid’s explanation include the following:

1. In claiming that there was nothing wrong in his meeting Tan Sri Loy for 35 minutes in the Supreme Court Chambers on March 24, he is disputing established judicial practices and conventions as well as the stand by the Law Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar in Parliament that it is improper for judges to meet litigants when cases, including appeals, are pending in court to avoid arousing suspicious on their decisions.

2. From Tun Hamid’s explanation, it is clear that Loy has a very close relationship with the Lord President where he could have a 35-minute ‘visit’ without appointment with a call, saying: “Tun can I come and see you to say hello to you, to congratulate you?”

Tun Hamid has contradicted himself when he said that he had not discussed Wee Choo Keong’s contempt case with Loy, for Tan Hamid admitted yesterday that he had told Loy that he would not be hearing the appeal.

This is news to Wee Choo Keong and his lawyers, for they do not know who would constitute the Supreme Court which would hear the appeal in Penang on May 9. In this instance, Loy has the privilege to know more about the appeal than Wee Choo Keong and his lawyers.

3. Tun Hamid said that on March 23, a day before his meeting with Loy. He had already fixed the Supreme Court hearing for Wee Choo Keong’s appeal against conviction and sentence for contempt to be held in Penang on May 9.

Tun Hamid said that March 24 was to be his last day in office as Lord President, and that the announcement of his six-month extension was announced only on that day.

It is rather unusual for the Lord President, on the eve of his retirement, to fix dates for Supreme Court hearings for May. Furthermore, when Tun Hamid fixed the date of May9 for the Supreme Court hearing of the appeal, Wee Choo Keong’s record of appeal against conviction had not been filed yet – as it was filed only on April 16. This is most irregular and improper.

4. From Tun Hamid’s statement, it is clear that he and Loy have a very close relationship, and he should not have presided over any court cases in which Loy has an interest. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

However, in April 1993, Tun Hamid presided over the Supreme Court which declared as frivolous and dismissed with costs, Choo Keong’s interlocutory appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision rejecting his application to set aside the MBf injunction and to strike out the writ of summons by MBf.

Was it judicially proper for Tun Hamid to have sat on the cae on April 1993 in view of his close relationship with Loy, as he had admitted yesterday?