Wednesday, May 12, 2021

From court bench to witness box for ex-CJ and AG

Former chief justice Zaki Ami and former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali speak about their experience testifying as witness and plaintiff in two separate trials.

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Former chief justice Zaki Ami and former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali whose long legal careers saw them on the bench on numerous occasions have been speaking from the witness box as witness and plaintiff in separate trials.

Needless to say, the view has been quite different.

Zaki, who was chief justice for three years from 2008, laughed when asked whether he felt nervous about testifying before a judge for the first time as a witness.

“No, not nervous, but I was a little anxious. As a judge, I was used to sitting on the bench. As a counsel, I was used to sitting where the lawyers usually sit.

“However, last Wednesday, I sat in the witness box,” said Zaki, who was a practising lawyer before being appointed as a Federal Court judge in September 2007, the first such direct appointment in Malaysian judicial history.

Zaki said it was an interesting experience as well as a historic moment for him to be testifying in court.

“My first attendance in court was in 1987 when I was a lawyer. Last week, I attended court as a witness,” he said.

“It was an interesting and great experience waiting in the witness room with the other witnesses before being called to testify. As the former chief justice in Malaysia and (as a chief justice in) Dubai, it was a historic moment for me,” he said, adding that not many judges or lawyers could tell such a story to their grandchildren.

In November 2018, Zaki made headlines after he was appointed as chief justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts which deals with civil and commercial disputes in Dubai, one of the world’s leading financial centres.

Last Wednesday, he was the sixth prosecution witness in the Sessions Court at the trial of former Sabah infrastructure development minister Peter Anthony who is facing charges of using false documents relating to a system maintenance contract.

He testified in his capacity as chairman of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah board of directors from April 3, 2013 to July 31, 2018.

Apandi, who is now a practising lawyer, was a Federal Court judge prior to his appointment as attorney-general in 2015.

He said it was his first time testifying in court and that he regarded it as a great experience.

“I did not feel nervous because the courts have been my playground. I am used to attending court every day. I am used to seeing witnesses take their oath and give evidence. I was calm and cool when I testified,” he said.

Apandi, who was attorney-general from July 27, 2015 to June 4, 2018, had testified in the trial of his defamation suit against DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang before High Court judge Azimah Omar.

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