KUALA LUMPUR — June 13, 2019: Former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad has reminded Attorney-General Tommy Thomas on the need to be impartial in the inquest into the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd. Kassim.
Hamid’s strongly-worded statement today came a day after a press conference during which lawyer Syazlin Mansor had talked on possible bias by Thomas.
Syazlin represented Adib’s family and the government for 36 weeks at the inquest before ordered by Thomas to recuse herself due to her vocal streak during the proceedings.
Hamid is of the views that it is unusual for an AG to order the lawyer to do so by claiming that she often contradicted the position of the deputy public prosecutors who were also the conducting officers at the inquest.
“I don’t understand why he (Thomas) said that it was embarrassing for Syazlin to contradict the DPPs. Both Syazlin and the DPPs are helping the court to find out how Adib died, they are not representing opposing sides in a trial,” he argued.
Syazlin recused herself from the inquest on May 27 and had kept mum about it until yesterday, when she asserted that Thomas initially had no problem with her appointment but later accused her of acting in bad faith.
Syazlin had grilled Kuala Lumpur Hospital 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.
Thomas also cited the possibility of conflict of interests that may arise as Syazlin was representing Adib’s family, the Housing and Local Government Ministry and Fire and Rescue Department.
Thomas’s mistake, said Hamid, was due to him thinking that the ministry and department needed to take the same position as the DPPs and that Adib’s family cannot be represented by those representing the government because the former has direct interests in the proceedings.
“His (Adib’s) family is being perceived as an enemy that may sue the ministry and the department. We are not asking the AG to side with Adib because he is a government officer. We are merely asking the AG to understand the prosecutors’ role in the inquest.
“Do not take sides. Do not stifle dissenting views. Do not compel the ministry and the department to take a particular position whilst rejecting other findings. Allow the coroner to listen to all testimonies so that a just and fair verdict can be meted out,” said Hamid.