Mahathir: Why quit as family lawyer if you want to seek the truth?

29 May 2019 / 07:38 H.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Syazlin Mansor, who withdrew herself as counsel from the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, should have stayed on to represent the victim’s family if she really wanted to seek the truth.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix) said Syazlin, who announced her withdrawal on Monday, should only quit as the lawyer representing the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) as well as the Fire and Rescue Department, due to conflict of interest.

He said this as it was not right for Syazlin to represent the government when she was also part of the legal counsels acting on behalf of Adib’s family.

“The ones who appointed Syazlin did not know initially that she was also the lawyer for Adib’s family. So when we found out, of course she has to withdraw as the government counsel. But she should have stayed on to represent the family.

“She claims she wanted to seek the truth. If she wanted the truth, she can find it in court. The prime minister now no longer has power over the courts.

“If you don’t trust the court, then who do we trust for decisions,” he told a press conference, here yesterday.

On Monday, Syazlin announced her withdrawal from Adib’s case, forcing the inquest to be adjourned for three weeks.

In a statement earlier yesterday, KPKT Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s press secretary Nor Hizwan Ahmad said Syazlin withdrew herself from the inquest after she was instructed to do so by the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

Thomas explained that Syazlin ought to have declined the government appointment for, among other things, having a conflict of interest due to her involvement with Adib’s family’s counsel team and as her husband was employed as press-secretary to Zuraida.

“I was shocked to subsequently discover through news report that Syazlin also withdrew from acting for the deceased’s family. That decision was voluntarily made by her, without any influence from the chambers,” he said.

On a separate matter, Mahathir defended Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik amidst calls from several quarters for his removal after a series of controversial statements and decisions, including on the matriculation quota system.

The PPBM chairman said Maszlee should not have been regarded as racist merely based several of his statements defending the Bumiputra.

“In our party, there are many others who speak about race. Other parties also speak about their own races, but we are all Malaysians. You cannot question that.

“We need to make sure we get the support of all Malaysians, and probably try to win the support of the Bumiputras, especially that Umno and PAS has now collaborated and use issues of race and religion to garner support,” he said.

Maszlee recently courted heavy criticism after claiming that if Malaysians do not want the matriculation quota system to be implemented, then job opportunities should not be denied to the Bumiputras simply because they do not speak Chinese.

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