Jan 18, 2008

Eusoff Chin: Lingam Just An Acquaintance but he offered to pay for my NZ trip

They are not close friends, but he offered to pay half of his expenses for New Zealand trip.

(Malaysiakini) Former chief justice Eusoff Chin today said that he knew lawyer VK Lingam since early 1990s when he was a Kuala Lumpur High Court judge.

He said that he first met Lingam then when the lawyer appeared before him for a case in Kuala Lumpur.

However, Eusoff added that he did not have a close relationship with the lawyer.

“It was a normal relationship. It a matter of degree,” he told the royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tape.

Later to another question, Eusoff said: "(We are) not extremely close".

Eusoff is the 11th witness to testify in the inquiry which was established to ascertain, among others, the authenticity of a video clip which featured Lingam allegedly brokering judicial appointments with the then chief judge of Malaya Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.

Eusoff was also badgered with questions over his overseas holiday trip with Lingam.

The former top judge responded repeatedly that he had met Lingam and his family by chance during the holiday and that Lingam had wanted to tag along.

At one point, an exasperate Eusoff told Bar Council lawyer Ranjit Singh: "You are out here to hammer me."

Ranjit responded: No, we are not here to hammer anybody.

Quote from BERNAMA

Lingam Offered To Pay Half Of Transport Cost In New Zealand, Says Eusoff Chin

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the controversial Lingam video clip Friday heard that retired chief justice Tun Eusoff Chin and lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam equally shared the cost of transportation between two cities during a holiday with their families in New Zealand in 1994.

Eusoff, who was then the chief justice, said he only paid half of the transportation cost for a van from Christchurch to Queenstown after Lingam offered to pay the other half.

Eusoff said he, his wife Toh Puan Rosaini Mustaffa and their two children, Zubaidah and Johan, had hired a travel agency van driven by a New Zealander to go to Queenstown.

Malaysian Bar representative Ranjit Singh asked Eusoff why he did not tell Lingam he was not going to share the van with him (Lingam) and his family as it was wrong for a judge to do such a thing because Lingam was a lawyer and had appeared before him in court.

Eusoff replied that the van could accommodate between four and nine people and "there were eight of us in the van".

Ranjit Singh also asked whether Lingam had gotten hold of Eusoff's holiday itinerary and planned the trip just to be close to Eusoff.

Eusoff answered: "I can't say what he (Lingam) was thinking but Justice Datuk Edgar Joseph Jr, who had just come back from New Zealand, told me that it was a nice place to visit.

"I then asked my secretary to contact the travel agent to arrange a trip for me for a week or so. However, he (Lingam) wanted to tag along. It was out of my control."

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