Attorney-General Tommy Thomas today cited several reasons why lawyer Syazlin Mansor should have declined to act on behalf of the Housing and Local Government Ministry, as well as the Fire and Rescue Department.
Thomas was responding to the debate surrounding Syazlin's withdrawal yesterday from the inquest to determine firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim's cause of death.
In a statement, he noted that like all ministries and government departments, the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department are required to seek legal advice from the Attorney-General's Chambers when appointing external counsel.
He also noted that Syazlin was in a conflict of interest position when she agreed to act for the ministry and department, as she was also acting for Adib's family.
"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 deputy public prosecutors have taken, thus causing embarrassment in her capacity as the ministry's lawyer.
"Fourthly, Syazlin's husband is employed as press secretary to the housing minister (Zuraida Kamaruddin).
"It is for these reasons I requested the housing minister to immediately revoke her appointment from further representing the ministry and the department," he added.
However, Thomas said he was shocked to learn that Syazlin (photo) also withdrew from representing the deceased's family.
"That decision was voluntarily made by her, without any influence from the chambers," he added.
"DPP Faten requested Syazlin to continue to represent the family so that the inquest proceedings could proceed and (forensics expert) Dr Shahrom Abdul Wahid could be called to further testify.
"Syazlin was, however, firm on her decision to withdraw," he added.
Thomas also explained that Syazlin's withdrawal would not affect Shahrom's status as an expert witness.
Shahrom had testified that Adib was pulled out of the Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) van and assaulted during the Seafield temple riots on Nov 27.
This contradicted the testimonies of two government-appointed forensic experts, who claimed that Adib fell from the EMRS van and that his injuries were due to being hit by the vehicle when it backed into him in an attempt to escape an advancing mob.
Adib, 24, succumbed to his injuries at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 17.