Adib inquest: Lawyer Syazlin questions AG over recusal order

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

After keeping mum for 17 days, the lawyer who had a prominent role in the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd. Kassim today talked about her recusal on the orders of Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

KUALA LUMPUR — June 12, 2019: The Attorney-General Chambers had no problem with the appointment of lawyer Syazlin Mansor in January to represent the government and Adib’s family in the inquest to determine how the fireman died but five months later she was ordered to recuse herself.

Today, she asserted at press conference that AG Tommy Thomas had given the order after he grew to dislike her vocal streak and had sccused her of acting in bad faith when she questioned an expert’s theory that there was no criminal element in Adib’s death.

“Deputy public prosecutor Faten Hadni told me that the boss (Thomas) deemed so when I often contradicted the position of the conducting officers and when I questioned the theory of the expert from HKL (Kuala Lumpur Hospital).

“Back then I was also forbidden to tell the court and media about this. The minister (of Housing and Local Government) Zuraida Kamaruddin also instructed me to do the same,” said Syazlin.

Syazlin, who recused herself from the inquest on May 27, also announced her decision to once again represent Adib’s family upon the request of his father.

Her recusal was controversial as it happened a week after she had grilled HKL forensic expert Dr. Ahmad Hafizam Hasni over his theory that Adib had, during the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple riot, voluntarily exited a van and that his injuries were likely caused by him being hit by the door of the vehicle and then falling onto a hard object on the road shoulder.

Following a public outcry, Thomas issued a statement, listing the four reasons why Syazlin needed to recuse herself, one of which hinted that the ministry and Fire and Rescue Department did not seek legal advice from the AGC when they appointed Syazlin.

Listed below is a truncated version of Syazlin’s point-by-point rebuttals to Thomas’s arguments.

That there was no written approval (fiat)  from the AG concerning her appointment

Citing Section 379 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Syzalin argued that a fiat is only needed when the government hires a lawyer to conduct any criminal prosecution or inquiry or to appear on any criminal appeal or point of law reserved on behalf of the public prosecutor.

“The conducting officers of the inquest are the DPPs and not me. I am a lawyer who was hired by interested parties. Also, what is the function of this inquest if everyone should nod in agreement and that no one must question the findings and theories of that HKL expert?” said Syazlin.

That there was conflict of interest because she was representing the ministry, department and Adib’s family

She argued that the conflict of interest issue was irrelevant as the interested parties are not suing each other and that the family and department had collectively disagreed with the expert’s theory.

That she played an active role during the inquest and often contradicted the position of the DPPs

To this, Syazlin argued that as a lawyer representing the interested parties, she must actively take a stand that is in tandem with her clients’ position in order to help the coroner ascertain the cause of Adib’s death.

“Also, why are the DPPs, who are also acting as the conducting officers, taking positions? Aren’t conducting officers supposed to be neutral and impartial?” was her rhetorical question.

That her husband worked as the press secretary to the minister

“What is the issue here? I am representing them on a pro bono basis. The conducting officers knew about this from the very beginning. What is the AG trying to imply when he linked my husband’s position to this inquest? I believe this is a vile attempt to sully our reputation,” said Syazlin.

Her husband, Ahmad Sofian Mohd. Shariff, resigned from his post two days ago.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.