KUALA LUMPUR (May 28): Lawyer Syazlin Mansor was in a conflict of interest situation in representing fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim's family, the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Services Department in the inquest into Adib’s death, Attorney General Tommy Thomas said today.
Syazlin should have declined the Government appointment on several counts, Thomas said in a statement. Firstly, the Ministry and Fire Department are required by Government regulations to seek legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, and external counsel would be appointed by the AG or public prosecutor.
“Secondly, Syazlin was in a conflict of interest position when she agreed to act for the Housing 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,” Thomas said.
“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. Next, Syazlin's husband is employed as press secretary to the Housing Minister (Zuraida Kamaruddin),” he said.
For these reasons, the AG said, he requested Zuraida to immediately revoke Syazlin's appointment as counsel for the Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Services Department.
Thomas said he was shocked to subsequently discover through a news report yesterday that Syazlin also withdrew from also acting for the deceased’s family.
“That decision was voluntarily made by her, without any influence from Chambers,” the AG said.
“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 has 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,” he added.
Thomas maintained that Dr Shahrom is an expert witness assisting the coroner in the inquest.
His role in the inquest, the AG said is not affected by Syazlin’s withdrawal as counsel.
DPP Faten informed the coroner that the AG’s Chambers is prepared to assist the inquest by subpoenaing Dr Shahrom and will do so.