Showman Shafee S Obnoxious Conduct Gave Courts Fatigue Says Zaid

Zaid Ibrahim (left) says it was Shafee Abdullah’s incompetency that led to Najib Razak suffering repeated losses in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim has called for Shafee Abdullah to “have some respect for truth” in his quest to get justice for Najib Razak.
“It is very sad for me if these accusations by Shafee yesterday are supported by Najib. I don’t know. He must have agreed to this narrative. Otherwise, why would Shafee raise that in open court?” Zaid said.
In comments posted on Facebook, he said the reason why Najib encountered problems in his SRC International case was probably due to the “somewhat obnoxious conduct of Shafee”.
“I think the court suffers from Shafee fatigue, and that is why Najib needed to change lawyers … so that the judges will be willing to listen, and the judges will be willing to look at the applications seriously,” he said.
The senior lawyer was responding to what he described as a “scathing attack” made by Shafee at the hearing of Najib’s bid yesterday to secure a review by the Federal Court of its decision to affirm the former prime minister’s conviction and sentence in the SRC International corruption case.
Shafee had claimed that Zaid’s firm, Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners, had not practised criminal law, and was not equipped to handle complicated cases such as the one Najib was facing.
He also said Zaid’s firm had assured Najib that the Federal Court would give them reasonable time to prepare for the appeal proper.
However, Zaid denied this, saying that Najib’s camp experienced a “sense of desperation and concern” after suffering repeated losses in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the build-up to the Federal Court appeal.
“They asked for my views, and so I said, it was Shafee’s incompetency that led to these difficulties.
“It you want a different outcome at the last stage, which is at the Federal Court, you have to remove Shafee. And I said so in all honesty.
“You see, Shafee is a good showman. He is not a good lawyer. His approach is scattergun. He was talking about political conspiracy with no evidence,” he said.
According to Zaid, Shafee’s “scattergun” approach was “the crux of (Najib’s) problem”, and that a change of approach was needed.
“I told the team that to attack Nazlan’s credibility or integrity (was) stupid, because Nazlan is a man of integrity and there is no evidence that he took money or anything like that,” Zaid said, referring to Court of Appeal judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
The former law minister said the issue with Nazlan was that he was involved in 1MDB when he was working with Maybank.
“That could be a problem in the sense of a conflict of interest. That’s all we could pick on him,” he said.
He said he went on to assemble a team that included Indian advocates with vast experience in the Indian Penal Code and its money laundering laws, which were similar to Malaysia’s.
“We brought these lawyers to see Najib, and Najib at that time was convinced that the (only) way to go about it (was) to abandon Shafee.
“Of course, Shafee was furious. He even refused to hand over the files until we got Najib to write a letter terminating his services. We took the letter to the courts,” he said.
Zaid said his team did a good job in reshaping Najib’s affidavit to remove allegations accusing Nazlan of bribery and impropriety, as well as allegations of political conspiracy.
“We narrowed it down to conflict of interests (and) to adducing additional evidence of Nazlan’s role when he was in Maybank. We thought that it was a legitimate issue to discuss at the Federal Court level,” he said.
He said his team’s services were terminated after they were denied what they thought was a “fair request” for adjournment.
“You cannot blame us. We did our best in (those) five weeks,” he said.
Najib, 69, filed for the review in September last year, shortly after the apex court affirmed his conviction for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in the SRC case.
On Aug 23, a five-member bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat upheld his conviction and sentence of 12 years’ jail and a fine of RM210 million or, in default, an additional five years in prison.
Najib is asking for that decision to be set aside and for another Federal Court bench consisting of at least seven judges to rehear his appeal.
On Aug 16, before the hearing of the appeal proper, Najib saw a motion for leave to introduce additional evidence and disqualify trial judge Nazlan thrown out by the bench.
The court then refused his request for an adjournment to enable his new team of lawyers to prepare and argue the merits of his appeal.
Najib’s other complaint that Tengku Maimun ought not to have presided over the appeal on the grounds of purported bias was dismissed on Aug 23. - FMT

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