KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam was definitely sober the night he was speaking on the telephone, said Loh Gwo Burne, the man who taped the conversation.
|Loh Gwo Burne|
"Even by the end of the night, he wasn't that drunk."
His testimony contradicted that of Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who testified last week that Lingam was "either mad or drunk" when he was filmed speaking in the video clip.
It also ran counter to the claim by Lingam who said he must have had "too much to drink" and "didn't know what he was talking about".
"No, he didn't give me the impression that he was acting. I could hear a man's voice on the other end of the line. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but it was a man's voice."
Gwo Burne, who works as a consultant in , was the 12th witness to give evidence to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Lingam video tape. The hearing began last Monday.
In a testimony punctured with humour, he said Lingam had spilt curry on his shirt during dinner and had excused himself, saying that he wanted to go and change.
This, he said, was presumably why Lingam's shirt was hanging out in the video while it was tucked inside his trousers in a photograph that had been taken after dinner and the telephone conversation.
"He split some curry on his shirt and excused himself, saying that he wanted to change.
"When he came back, his shirt was tucked in," he said.
Lingam's counsel R. Thayalan, who disputed that the telephone conversation had taken place before dinner, asked: "So it is your evidence that at 9pm in his own house, he went to change into a long-sleeved white shirt and tucked it in?"
When Gwo Burne replied that this was so, Thayalan asked: "How can you be sure that he changed into a new shirt?"
Gwo Burne replied: "Well, he said, 'I'm going to change' and when he returned, the stain was no longer there, so he must have changed the shirt. I didn't go into his room."
Thayalan then asked him about the voice he had heard on Lingam's phone.
"How did you know it was a man's voice? How did you identify it was a male or female voice?" Thayalan asked.
"Through experience," replied Gwo Burne, to laughter in the public gallery.
When Salehuddin Saidin, counsel for former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, asked the witness how far away he was from Lingam during the conversation, Gwo Burne said the distance varied because the lawyer moved around as he spoke.
"Because he was moving about, sometimes he was near me, sometimes he was far. When he was near, he was about one to two metres away.
"At other times, he was about two to four metres away."
When Salehuddin asked: "Wasn't your father in a better position to hear?", Gwo Burne replied: "I might have better hearing."
Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor quipped: "That's quite logical," drawing more laughter.
Earlier, questioned by inquiry officer Datuk Nordin Hassan, Gwo Burne said he had videotaped Lingam's phone conversation by mistake.
Gwo Burne said he had bought a new digital camera, a Sony 707, two weeks earlier.
Nordin: On Dec 20, 2001, did you and your father visit V.K. Lingam's house?
Gwo Burne: I don't recall the date Dec 20 but I recall it was in late December 2001.
Nordin: What was the purpose of the visit to V.K. Lingam's house?
Gwo Burne: He invited us to his house for dinner and to discuss our legal matters.
Nordin: Did V.K. Lingam know you had a camera with you?
Gwo Burne: Yes. Through the course of the evening, he asked me to take photographs and in fact, as soon as we arrived, I asked if I could take videos of his house and he said 'yes'.
The 14-minute video of Lingam speaking on the telephone was played, after which Gwo Burne said it was the video he shot.
Nordin: We are all very curious, why did you shoot the video?
Gwo Burne: Actually at that time, I was trying out my new camera and trying to take a picture of the vase in the lounge. Halfway through, I realised my camera was on video recording mode, but I decided to continue anyway because I was bored and fed up.
Nordin: Why were you bored and fed up?
Gwo Burne: Well, we were there at his (Lingam) house supposedly to discuss our legal matters but he was constantly on the phone, receiving so many calls, so I was very bored and fed up of waiting.
Nordin: Was Lingam aware you were recording the conversation?
Gwo Burne: I don't believe so.
Nordin: Did you hear what Lingam was saying on the phone?
Gwo Burne: Yes I did.
Nordin: Was your father aware you were recording the conversation?
Gwo Burne: No, I didn't tell him.
Nordin: Did you also hear the conversation between your father and Lingam?
Gwo Burne: Yes I did.
Nordin: What time did you leave Lingam's house that night?
Gwo Burne: I would say about 11pm, together with my father.
Nordin: What did you do with the video recording and photos after that?
Gwo Burne: I downloaded the contents of my memory card into my PC (personal computer). I also gave the photographs I took to my father. About a month later, I burned all the contents onto a compact disc.
Nordin: Where is this compact disc?
Gwo Burne: It's been a long time, I don't know where it is right now.
Nordin: Did you transfer the photos and the video clip anywhere else?
Gwo Burne: Before I left for in 2004, I downloaded the entire contents of my PC into DVDs and took them all to .
Nordin: Did you give the video and photos to anyone?
Gwo Burne: In 2002, I burned an additional disc and gave it to the late Manjit Singh.
(Lawyer Manjit Singh, who arrived in the house later, appears in a photograph together with Lingam and Mui Fah which Gwo Burne and Mui Fah say was taken after the telephone conversation. In the clip, Lingam is seen telling Mui Fah he was speaking to the chief judge of Malaya Ahmad Fairuz, adding: "You don't tell this to anybody please. I cannot tell this to Manjit.")
Nordin: Do you have any idea who released the clip to the public?
Gwo Burne: Initially I thought it was Manjit Singh, then I found out that he'd died so now I have no idea.
Nordin: Can you locate the original copy of the clip?
Gwo Burne: The original PC is not around anymore, and when I went to , I left copies of my files and the contents of the PC in the various towns I worked in , but if I really tried, I would be able to locate these files.
Nordin then called Lingam for Gwo Burne to identify.
Nordin: In this V.K. Lingam, speaking on the telephone in the video clip?
Gwo Burne: Yes.
Gwo Burne's counsel Alex de Silva then began his questions.
De Silva: Did you understand the contents of Lingam's telephone conversation?
Gwo Burne: No, I didn't know what was being said.
De Silva: You said earlier you'd given a disc which you burned to Manjit Singh. When was this?
Gwo Burne: Around mid 2002.
De Silva: Why did you give it to him?
Gwo Burne: I was with Manjit at that time, we were complaining about Lingam, I was complaining that he was always busy and whenever we met him, he was always busy with other matters. Manjit was saying that he wasn't being paid.
(Mui Fah had earlier testified that Manjit was his counsel in a court case).
Gwo Burne: Manjit was always saying that Lingam was always 'politics, politics, politics' so I said, 'Maybe you should check this thing out', so I gave him a copy of the CD which contained the video and the pictures.
De Silva: Did you tell your father you gave the CD to Manjit?
Gwo Burne: No.
De Silva: You said earlier you had left the data in various towns in . Did you stay in many places?
Gwo Burne: I moved around a fair bit, , , but I'm primarily in .
De Silva: Why did you leave your things in various places?
Gwo Burne: Because I returned to these places periodically.
De Silva: In transferring data from the PC to the CDs, did you at any time edit, tamper or interfere wit the video clip?
Gwo Burne: No.
It was then Thayalan's turn to question him.
Thayalan: What happened to the photos and the video recording which were stored in the memory card?
Gwo Burne: I deleted the memory card after that.
Thayalan then went into the technicalities of the recording process, asking whether the original memory card would have more than just the 14-minute clip.
Gwo Burne said the memory card would have additional data but denied that his recording was incomplete.
Thayalan: Do you agree that without the original memory card, the Commission cannot compare the video clip with other materials in the memory card?
Gwo Burne: I disagree. The video clip is a separate file from other recordings in the memory card. When you stop a recording then start again, the second recording will be a new data file.
Commisioner Datuk Mahadev Shankar: Are you saying that this segment is complete in itself from start to finish and this is one complete segment?
Gwo Burne: Yes.
Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."