PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar today urged its members to be “vigilant and circumspect” before taking on a case in the wake of a lawyer’s decision to withdraw from an inquest into a fireman’s death.
“Every member is urged to examine, on a case-by-case basis, whether they would be ‘embarrassed’ or if their professional conduct is likely to be called into question if a brief is accepted.
“This is a duty that all advocates and solicitors must take seriously,” its president, Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, said in a statement.
Last week, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas cited several reasons why it was not tenable for Syazlin Mansor to act on behalf of the housing and local government ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department at the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
This included conflict of interest as Syazlin was also acting for Adib’s family.
Thomas also said that Syazlin had often contradicted the stand taken by the DPP which had caused “embarrassment in her capacity as the ministry’s lawyer”.
Fareed agreed with Thomas that there was a potential conflict of interest but regretted that no objection was raised earlier.
He said the instruction for her to withdraw from representing the government at an advanced stage in the inquest may have contributed to a negative perception by the public regarding the turn of events.
Fareed said such an unfavourable perception was exacerbated by the DPP who filed an affidavit that reportedly stated that Adib’s death was not due to beatings by any person.
This, he said, was despite the fact that any findings relating to cause of death were “exclusively the prerogative of the coroner in an inquest”.
“All parties concerned should have adopted a more prudent and cautious approach from the outset. The failure to do so has led to unnecessary speculation and adverse perceptions,” he said.
Adib was part of a response team sent from the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue station on Nov 27, 2018 to the Seafield Hindu temple following protests over the temple’s relocation, during which violence erupted and damage was caused to property.
Last night, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said a new government counsel will be appointed to represent the ministry.