YOURSAY | 'AGC must explain why conflict of interest was not detected and acted upon much earlier.'
Vent: Firstly, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin erred in appointing lawyer Syazlin Mansor.
Did she not know earlier, as per her own admission, that Syazlin's role was redundant, and that "the attorney-general (AG) is representing the government - that would include both the ministry and Bomba (Fire and Rescue Department)"?
Lastly, whether Syazlin acted pro bono or not, she is the wife of an aide of Zuraida.
Further, as alluded to by the AG, there is the grave possibility of a conflict of interest as she is also representing the late firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s family.
Yet, instead of coming out in the open and admitting to these facts, Syazlin chose to remain non-committal in what could be perceived as a pointless attempt to protect herself from being accused of being ignorant of the law or plain duplicitous.
Lastly, although Zuraida complied promptly with the AG's demand, she should be made answerable as to why she appointed Syazlin, and why, when the AG is representing both the ministry and the Fire Department.
Roger 5201: That Syazlin worked pro bono is immaterial to the inquest. It does matter that she is the wife of Zuraida's press secretary Ahmad Soffian Mohd Shariff.
An independent lawyer is needed to help ensure the inquiry objectively establishes the truth, instead of inviting more controversies down the road.
Abasir: The pulling out by Zuraida's pro bono counsel of choice certainly raises some unsettling questions, among which are the following:
1. Did any of the senior civil servants (with much more ministry experience than the minister) caution her against engaging an outside counsel instead of referring the matter to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), as per the norm? If not, why not?
2. In the event caution was formally communicated by a memo, is there evidence of that? If not, why not?
3. If, as expected of highly-paid professionals trained by the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan), the minister was advised to seek input from the AGC. Did anyone influence the minister to ignore such advice?
4. Did the minister, in engaging this lawyer, keep the civil servants in the dark?
5. Assuming that the minister did seek input from the AGC, who in the Chambers greenlit the engagement of an outside counsel? Is there any evidence of that?
6. What role did any ministerial "aide" play in securing the pro bono services of the lawyer in question?
7. Was it made known to the minister that the lawyer recommended to represent the ministry is related to the minister's aide? If so, what was her response?
8. Was the cabinet informed or updated by the minister with regard to the inquest and the role of the pro bono counsel representing it? If so, what do the minutes indicate?
9. Was the AGC suddenly made aware that someone from outside the government is, against all norms, representing the ministry? If so, by whom?
10. What actually transpired between the AGC and the ministry that finally led to the situation we have now? When did this happen?
Bert: As a layperson, it did strike me as odd when I read that Syazlin was representing the family of Adib, the Housing and Local Government Ministry, as well as the Fire and Rescue Department.
There is a conflict of interest if the matter goes to court.
Anonymous_1527925538: If it’s true that there is a conflict of interest, the AG should have stopped it right at the start. Why only now? Is it a misstep or oversight by the AG?
If so, he should come clean, admit it and apologise to the people.
Lipdah: If this was done by the minister and the AG did not know the relationship till now, why blame him? Unless this appointment had to be vetted by the AGC before the appointment.
Malaysian_Phenomenon: Fair play, AG Tommy Thomas. However, the AGC would have known she was representing both sides and would be creating a conflict of interest.
At the same time, Syazlin should have also recused herself from either one of the parties she represented.
This is a classic case of Old Malaysia in a New Malaysia shell. This should not have been allowed to happen in the first place. But better late than never, I guess.
Anonymous_1547638541238.97951547637684420: I can’t believe such unprofessionalism and conflict of interest went on for so long before some semblance of professionalism took place.
Zuraida has to explain herself. The AGC must also explain why the situation of conflict of interest was not detected and acted upon much earlier.
Anonymous One: Why take on an external lawyer without consulting the AGC?
The Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department breached the standard operating procedure. Both should be taken to task.
Zuraida should resign for appointing a crony lawyer.
Constitutional Supremacy: Syazlin was representing the ministry and the Fire Department. She also represented Adib’s family. How could she do this?
Even a first-year law student will tell you there was a conflict of interest here.
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