AG told us to withdraw lawyer from Adib’s inquest, says housing ministry

Lawyer Syazlin Mansor withdrew from the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.

KUALA LUMPUR: The housing and local government ministry said today it directed Syazlin Mansor, who was representing it at the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, to withdraw following a request from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

Nor Hizwan Ahmad, the political secretary to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, also defended the appointment of Syazlin Mansor as the ministry’s lawyer.

He revealed in a statement that Syazlin is the wife of Zuraida’s press secretary and that she had carried out her work “without payment and in the spirit of public service”.

Nor Hizwan said the ministry was making the clarification following a report quoting an unnamed source at the AGC saying that Zuraida had appointed a lawyer to represent the Fire and Rescue Department in the Adib inquest without the knowledge of the AGC.

“This is a misleading statement which does not give a full picture of what transpired,” he said.

He said Syazlin was appointed at an early stage to ensure and assist in the discovery of the facts surrounding the death of Adib.

This was a matter of great importance to the Fire and Rescue Department and the ministry, as a member of the department had died in the course of carrying out his duty, he said.

He said Syazlin had been representing the department and the ministry since the inquest commenced on Feb 11.

“No objections were raised by any of the parties involved in the inquest throughout the course of the inquest which is nearing its end.

“Now, upon receipt of a letter from the AG dated May 23 requesting that the appointment of the ministry’s lawyer be revoked, the ministry immediately acted in accordance with the AG’s advice and instructed its lawyer to withdraw from the inquest,” he said.

The Edge Financial Daily had reported that Syazlin was asked to be removed from representing the ministry over fears of a conflict of interest.

It said Syazlin was representing both the ministry and Adib’s family.

“This creates a conflict of interest should Adib’s family decide to sue the government later,” it quoted an unnamed source in the AGC as saying.

The report said Syazlin’s appointment as the ministry’s lawyer and counsel for the Fire and Rescue Department by Zuraida was done without approval from the AGC as the ministry had its own legal officers.

Another report yesterday had quoted Zuraida as saying that Syazlin’s services were withdrawn as her role was redundant because the AG acted for both the ministry and the fire department.

In informing coroner Rofiah Mohamad that she was withdrawing from representing the ministry, Syazlin said her exit would render invalid the status of former forensic specialist Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid, the 29th witness.

Shahrom and another forensic expert, Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi, who performed the post-mortem on Adib, had clashed over calculations on the force of impact of an emergency vehicle in causing Adib’s broken ribs.

Adib, 24, died at the National Heart Institute (IJN) on Dec 17 following injuries sustained during a riot outside the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya on Nov 27.