AGC rebuked for inattention to Adib family counsel’s 3 hats

Lawyer Syazlin Mansor was told to withdraw from representing the housing and local government ministry in the inquest into Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyer SN Nair has criticised the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for its apparent carelessness in allowing Syazlin Mansor to represent both the government and the family of the deceased in the inquest into fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death.

He noted that Syazlin’s withdrawal came after the inquest proceedings had gone on for 37 days.

He said the conducting officers should have known from the start that she was representing the fire and rescue department and the housing and local government ministry as well as Adib’s family.

He was commenting on Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas’s instruction for Syazlin to withdraw from representing the two government agencies. He said he agreed with Thomas that a conflict of interest could arise.

“Normally,” he said, “the family involved would appoint a lawyer and the AG would appoint his conducting officers, who are deputy public prosecutors.

“So I was shocked when the local and housing government ministry announced it had appointed a lawyer to represent its interests as well.”

He said there could be only one team of lawyers for the government and they could not be from two different government agencies.

He said the conducting officers should have asked Syazlin to show she had a fiat from the AGC to represent the ministry. If she could not, her appointment by the ministry would be unauthorised and therefore null and void, he added.

“It’s clear that the AGC did not know she was wearing multiple hats. And it is unfortunate that the AGC failed to ensure that the rules were followed at the outset.”

He said it was not possible to represent multiple clients and expect to remain neutral.

As a lawyer for the ministry, he added, Syazlin was supposed to protect the government’s interests, but he noted that she presented a witness, Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid, to contradict the findings of Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) pathologists on several points.

The HKL doctors had testified that they believed Adib had stepped out from the front passenger seat of a fire emergency vehicle and there were no injuries to suggest he was a victim of assault. Shahrom suggested Adib could have been pulled out of the vehicle and assaulted by a mob near the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple.

Nair also noted that Syazlin had objected when a HKL pathologist was asked to be recalled. He asked why her service was not revoked at that point.

Adib, 24, died at the National Heart Institute on Dec 17, 2018, from injuries sustained during a riot outside the Seafield temple in Subang Jaya on Nov 27.