October 3, 2019
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
WHEN the verdict of murdered fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s inquest was announced last week, lawyer Syazlin Mansor remarked that the proverbial ball to deliver justice to Adib’s family is now in the government’s court.
It was so, she said, because in Malaysia a criminal offense is regarded as an offence against the state and therefore it is the responsibility of the state, specifically, the Attorney-General (AG) to charge those who needed to be charged.
Naturally, one would expect the AG Tommy Thomas to swiftly issue an official statement over the verdict, that was declared on Friday morning, given how big of a news Adib’s case had become but oddly enough, the AG was mute.
Even later in the evening, not a squeak was heard from neither the AG nor his office, the AG’s Chambers.
Some say it was odd, because even the Fire and Rescue Department had issued a statement about the matter despite the gag-order that it was slapped with weeks before the verdict was announced.
The seeming tardiness was even more peculiar given how prompt the AG was in clarifying his decision in ordering Syazlin to recuse herself from Adib’s then-ongoing inquest.
To the unfamiliar, Syazlin had on May 27 recused herself from the inquest without any explanation which, obviously, raised a lot of eyebrows. In a bid to quell the situation, the AG had the following day, clarified why she did so.
The AG claimed that Syazlin’s position in the inquest — in which she represented both the family and the government — was littered with all sorts of conflict of interests, including her vocal questioning of a theory that Adib’s death was an accident.
It was only 17 days afterwards that Syazlin had finally spoken her side of the story –apparently, she was gag-ordered throughout the said period–, debunking the AG’s “peculiar arguments” about her role in the inquest whilst also announcing her decision to re-represent Adib’s family.
On Monday, however, the AG finally broke his silence — which was, mind you, four days after the inquest’s verdict was announced.
The much awaited statement has five paragraphs, in which two were used to explain the AGC and the police’s SOPs when charging suspects in court, while the second last paragraph was the guarantee that many were waiting for.
“No stone will be left unturned when the IP (investigation paper) is delivered to us [by the police]. The IP will be studied carefully and professionally. That is our promise,” read the AG’s statement.
So…that’s it? Study carefully and professionally? Ah, very reassuring indeed.
The statement was also weird in the sense that while the AGC said that it was waiting for the police to submit the IP of Adib’s murder, the latter had on Friday remarked that it was waiting “further instructions” from the former.
Gosh. What is this? A staring competition to see who blinks first?
As it is, it will be unsurprising if skepticisms over the AG’s sincerity and integrity in handling the case continue to brew ever the more.
Well, maybe it has to do with the fact that the AG himself is currently implicated in a criminal proceeding, initiated by Adib’s father, over the AG’s alleged role in preempting the Coroner’s verdict on Adib’s death, which has yet to be determined at that time.
To those who have not been following Adib’s inquest, the AGC had, in a bid to explain why the Sri Maha Mariamman temple committee was excluded from inquest, stated that Adib’s injuries and death were not caused by being beaten up.
How the AGC concluded as such ahead of the Coroner’s ruling is anybody’s guess.
But the fact that it did so was so contentious and serious to the point that the court had even saw the need for the AG to be called into the court to rebut the allegation leveled against him.
What the public is seeing right now is that the person who is tasked to dispense justice to Adib’s family is also the same person whom Adib’s father has accused of trying to, basically, screw up the inquest of his deceased son.
Sheesh. It’s no wonder some have trust issues with the AG.