Bar Shafee More Qualified Than Queen S Counsel To Represent Najib
The Malaysian Bar reiterated that there are 21,659 experienced lawyers in Malaysia for Najib Abdul Razak to choose from for his appeal against the verdict of the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.
In a court filing, Bar Council secretary Anand Raj pointed out that the former premier’s current defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (above) possesses more experience and qualifications compared to Jonathan Laidlaw, a Queen’s Counsel (QC) from the United Kingdom (UK).
The Bar’s representative made the assertion in its affidavit to object against Najib’s bid for the QC to represent him in the upcoming appeal before the Federal Court.
Previously in an affidavit in support of the bid, Shafee contended that the UK counsel could help “evolve and mature” Malaysian jurisprudence, as Najib’s SRC appeal involves “several novel points which had never been decided by Malaysian courts”.
However, in an affidavit to oppose the QC bid, deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul contended that not only are there more than a sufficient number of Malaysian lawyers that can act for Najib but that Laidlaw does not possess a requirement under the Legal Profession Act 1976 over basic mastery of Bahasa Malaysia.
Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Laidlaw‘Bar has grown in strength’
According to a copy of the Bar’s filing sighted by Malaysiakini, Anand explained that it was only in the early years after Malaysia attained independence from the UK in 1957 when there was a limited number of local lawyers that there was some need for assistance from the QC and other foreign experts.
He pointed out that 65 years after independence today, the Bar has grown in strength, quantitatively and qualitatively, with 21,659 advocates and solicitors in possession of a valid Annual and Practicing Certificate as of June 27.
“A perusal of the applicant’s (Laidlaw) qualifications and experience as set out in the said affidavit (by Shafee) reveals that he is an eminent Queen’s Counsel in the UK and has a varied and extensive experience in various jurisdictions.
“He does not, however, have the special qualifications or experience in the Malaysian legal system, the Malaysian criminal system and in other related jurisprudence required for the appeal.
“This is of the nature which is, in fact, available amongst the leading members of the criminal Bar advocates and solicitors in Malaysia,” Anand contended.
The Bar representative also pointed out that Shafee himself possesses extensive knowledge and vast experience as he had appeared and argued numerous cases involving criminal legal provisions and charges related to Najib’s appeal.
Anand highlighted that Shafee and his legal team represented Najib since the SRC case was still at the High Court level, whereby they submitted on behalf of the former premier against his seven charges under the MACC Act, the Penal Code and the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA).
“The fact that Shafee and his legal team have been involved in the subject case and are familiar with the charges and the statutory provisions involved from inception, it is the considered view of the Malaysian Bar that Shafee himself possesses greater experience and qualifications in respect of the issues pending in the appeal, more so than the applicant (Laidlaw),” Anand contended.
He added that Laidlaw had not demonstrated any familiarity with Malaysia’s evolving local statutes, practices and procedures, as well as its legal system, 65 years post-Independence.
The Bar was represented by counsel Bastian Pius Vendargon.
Former prime minister Najib Abdul RazakJuly 6 QC application hearing
It was reported that the High Court had set July 6 to hear the application for the QC to represent Najib.
The Federal Court has set 10 days in August to hear Najib’s final appeal to quash his conviction and sentence in the SRC graft case.
On Dec 8 last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Najib’s appeal to overturn an earlier decision by a lower court to convict and sentence him.
On July 28, 2020, the High Court found him guilty on one charge of abuse of position as then premier, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering involving RM42 million of funds from SRC International.
The lower court had also imposed a 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine but stayed the execution of the sentence pending disposal of Najib’s appeal.
Previously a subsidiary of 1MDB, SRC later became fully owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated.
Besides being a former prime minister, Najib was also the finance minister, SRC’s adviser emeritus, and chairperson of 1MDB’s board of advisers.
The abuse of power charge was under the MACC Act, the three CBT charges framed under the Penal Code, and the three money laundering counts were laid under AMLATFPUAA. - Mkini
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