KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Lawyer Syazlin Mansor was in a conflict of interest position when she represented the Housing and Local Government Ministry, Fire and Rescue Department and family of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim in the inquest into the fireman's death, says Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.
He also said Syazlin often contradicted the positions of deputy public prosecutors (DPPs), who were the conducting officers in the proceedings, causing embarrassment in her capacity as the ministry's lawyer.
"This is to clarify the confusion and speculation following the withdrawal of Syazlin Mansor, a member of the Malaysian Bar, from further representing the ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department in the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib, before the coroner, Judge Rofiah Mohamad at the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
"Syazlin accepted the appointment to represent the ministry and the Fire Department in the inquest proceedings when she was appointed to act on behalf of the estate of the deceased (the late Adib).
"She ought to have declined the government appointment for various reasons," he said in a statement on Tuesday (May 28).
Thomas explained firstly, the ministry and the Fire Department – like all other ministries and government departments – were required to seek legal advice from the Attorney General's Chambers with external counsel being appointed by the AG or Public Prosecutor.
"Secondly, Syazlin was in a conflict of interest position when she agreed to act for the ministry and the Fire Department as she was also acting for the deceased's family, who have a direct interest in the inquest. The interests of these parties may conflict, and it is unacceptable for her to act for all three parties.
"Thirdly, my officers, who are performing their traditional role as counsel assisting the coroner, have informed me that Syazlin takes an active part in the inquest, often contradicting the positions our DPPs have taken, thus causing embarrassment in her capacity as the ministry's lawyer.
"Fourthly, Syazlin's husband is employed as the press secretary to the Housing Minister. It is for these reasons that I requested the Housing Minister to immediately revoke her appointment from further representing the ministry and the Fire Department," he said.
Thomas said he was shocked to subsequently discover through a news report on Monday (May 27) that Syazlin also withdrew from acting for the deceased's family, saying that the decision was voluntarily made by her without any influence from the AG's Chambers.
"Finally, I must add that before the inquest proceedings started yesterday, DPP Faten Hadni Khairuddin, one of the conducting officers assisting the coroner in the inquest, personally spoke with Syazlin and informed her that this Chambers had no issue with her continuing to represent the deceased's family.
"DPP Faten requested Syazlin to continue to represent the deceased's family so that the inquest proceedings could proceed and Prof Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid could be called to further testify. Syazlin was, however, firm on her decision to withdraw.
"Prof Shahrom is an expert witness assisting the coroner in the inquest. His role in the inquest is not affected by Syazlin's withdrawal as counsel. DPP Faten informed the coroner that the Chambers is prepared to assist the coroner by subpoenaing Prof Shahrom. We will do so," said Thomas.
On Monday, coroner Rofiah granted Syazlin's application to recuse herself from representing the three parties on the 37th day of inquest proceedings
Muhammad Adib, 24, who was also a member of the emergency medical rescue services (EMRS) at the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue station, was seriously injured in a riot at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, on Nov 27, 2018.
He passed away after 21 days on Dec 17 at the National Heart Institute. – Bernama