Malaysian Bar Objects QC Representing Najib

Bar says there are over 20,000 qualified lawyers in Malaysia for Najib to choose

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Bar has objected to an application for Queen’s Counsel (QC) of the United Kingdom Jonathan Laidlaw to represent Najib Razak in the latter’s final appeal involving the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.

According to Bernama, its secretary B. Anand Raj in an affidavit filed on Monday (27 June), said Najib’s current lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah possessed more experience and qualifications compared to Laidlaw, and that there were over 20,000 other experienced lawyers in Malaysia for the former prime minister to choose from.

Anand said Shafee himself possessed extensive knowledge and vast experience as he had appeared and argued numerous cases involving criminal legal provisions and charges related to the Pekan MP’s appeal.

“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),” he said.

Anand pointed out 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.

“Today, in 2022, 65 years post-independence, the Malaysian Bar has grown in strength, quantitatively and qualitatively. We have 21,659 advocates and solicitors who are in possession of a valid Annual and Practicing Certificate as of June 27, 2022.

“There are many advocates and solicitors with subject matter expertise and experience in criminal defence litigation up to the highest appellate tiers. 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 QC 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,” he said.

He added that Laidlaw had not demonstrated any familiarity with Malaysia’s evolving local statutes, practices and procedures since it gained independence.

The application for a QC will be heard at the High Court here on 06 July before Judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid.

On 25 January, the legal firm Messrs Shafee & Co submitted a letter to the Secretariat of Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Najib’s intention to appoint a QC to assist him on complex issues and legal questions in the appeal of the SRC case in the Federal Court.

The Federal Court has set 10 days in August to hear Najib’s appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of the company’s funds.

On 08 December 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and 12-year prison sentence as well as an RM210 million fine imposed against Najib for misappropriating RM42 million in SRC funds.

Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who presided with fellow judges Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, unanimously dismissed Najib’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on July 28, 2020.

The Federal Court is Najib’s final avenue of appeal against his conviction and sentence.

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