Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik today failed to recuse High Court judge Ahmadi Asnawi from hearing his cheating trial, after the latter ruled that there was no basis to justify the former MCA president's application.
Dr Ling had on Tuesday applied to recuse Ahmadi from his Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) cheating trial, on grounds the latter had allegedly shown bias in ordering his defence to be entered in the trial.
Today Ahmad defended his comments made during the ruling, dismissing Dr Ling's claims that he had shown "apparent bias."
"The comments did not affect the course of a fair trial. It does not mean the defence cannot rebut the statements.
"The application is hereby dismissed as there is no merit," said Ahmadi.
"I have scrutinised the submission from both parties and felt the comments made cannot be seen as an exaggeration as it was based on finding of facts and on testimony during the examination-in-chief and during cross-examination,” the judge added.
Dr Ling's lawyer Wong Kian Kheong had earlier today argued that Ahmadi's comments were "not essential and irrelevant", and that the "strong language" used by the judge carried a "real danger of bias."
Wong said Ahmadi's remarks were made as if there was an "absolute and definite" conclusion made in respect of Dr Ling's guilt even before calling for the former Transport Minister's defence.
Another contention, said Wong was the fact that Ahmadi had concluded that Dr Ling had "deceived" Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed without summoning the former prime minister to testify in the trial.
“There is a reasonable apprehension of bias that my lord has already pre-decided my client’s guilt before the defence evidence was adduced,” Wong said.
But the lawyer stressed he was not questioning Ahmadi's integrity as a judge, but was concerned over the perception of a danger of bias.
The prosecution, in reply said that there was nothing said by Ahmadi which could even be "remotely" categorised as having any real danger of bias.
Deputy public prosecutor Manoj Kurup said the judge had made a thorough examination of the witnesses including evidence elicited during cross-examination before ruling for Dr Ling's defence to be called.
"The irony is that had Your Lordship not provided any such written grounds, an application of this nature would not have even arisen.
"Then the complaint would most likely been that the accused is unable to full prepare his defence because no reasons were given for calling his defence," said DPP Manoj.
The trial will resume on July 13.
Dr Ling was charged in July last year with knowingly deceiving the Cabinet into approving land purchase for the PKFZ, which resulted in wrongful losses for the government.
The charge, under section 418 of the Penal Code, carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail, or a fine or both.
The former MCA president also faces two alternative charges of deceiving the Cabinet into believing that the terms of purchase — at RM25 psf and 7.5 per cent interest — were acknowledged and agreed to by Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) despite knowing that there was no such agreement.
The alternative charges carry a lighter sentence of five years in jail, or a fine, or both
Somebody used to be known as "rotten fish head" during his heydays when he was in power. This is the big fish of PKFZ scandal catch. If even a "rotten fish head" can be allowed to swim free evading prosecution despite all the show of seriousness being put on to rein it in, there really is no more hope for this pipe dream called justice.