[UPDATED] Tun M claims he was left in dark on Batu Puteh RCI proceedings today

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned why the Royal Commission of Inquiry regarding Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks, and South Ledge was held today in secret, and neither he nor his lawyer were notified.

Dr Mahathir said by law, he or his lawyer should be present throughout the proceedings until it concludes.

He cited Section 18 of the Royal Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950 (Act 119) which stated that any person whose conduct is the subject of investigation under this Act, or anyone who is in any way involved or concerned in the matter under investigation, is entitled to be represented by a counsel throughout the investigation; and any person whom he considers ought to be represented in the manner mentioned earlier.

Dr Mahathir added that despite his lawyer's attempt to attend the proceedings after learning about the RCI, it continued in a closed session. Their objections were also rejected.

"I was informed by my lawyer that they were not given notice that the RCI regarding Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks, and South Ledge would be held today.

"If the RCI were to take place, either my lawyer or I expected to be summoned to attend and fully participate in the proceedings.

"How am I supposed to explain, provide clarification, or defend myself if neither I nor my lawyer are allowed to attend throughout the proceedings? This closed proceeding convened today without any notification to any parties and was held in secret.

"What puzzles me is why this RCI proceeding is being conducted secretly when it has been publicly announced, and government members have openly expressed opinions and made accusations against me before this RCI convened," he said in a statement.

He said they also made several other applications, including requesting the withdrawal of Tun Md Raus Bin Sharif (Chairman of the RCI), Datuk Dr. Baljit Singh Sidhu (Commissioner of the RCI), and Dato' Haji Mohammed Ridha bin Dato' Haji Abdul Kadir (Commissioner of the RCI) due to conflicts of interest.

Dr Mahathir reiterated that he had consulted with the Attorney-General chambers including soughting opinions from relevant lawyers before making any decisions regarding the Pulau Batu Puteh case, refuting claims by members of the government who said he made the decisions in secrecy.

"Subsequently, I presented the matter to the Cabinet members, and they all collectively agreed not to pursue the appeal.

"Among those present were Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anthony Loke, Gobind Singh Deo, and Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu. All of this is recorded in the government's records," he said.

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