was a rather grim appearance with all of them fully understanding the
gravity of the situation and that the final decision on Najib will be
made very soon.
But none of them articulated any clear statements which could have challenged the unanimous decision
of the five-person Federal Court chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun
Tuan Mat to first decline new evidence to be adduced indicating a
conflict of interest involving Nazlan.
The other bench members were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang
Iskandar Abang Hashim, and Federal Court justices P Nallini, Mary Lim
Thiam Suan, and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
It would not be enough
to merely allege a conflict of interest. There is a need to show that
Nazlan was conflicted by his actions and decisions in court. The crux of
the issue is whether Nazlan was influenced and showed it.
judges addressed the issue thus: “We are not in any way convinced that
the proposed evidence establishes anything to the effect that Nazlan’s
findings were in any way mired by any discreet or undisclosed personal
interest on his part on the establishment of SRC International Sdn Bhd
and its subsequent operation such as to render him a conflicted or
“Nor do we find anything in the motion that Nazlan
had any particular knowledge or was inspired by any extraneous
considerations gained from his previous employment with Maybank to
sustain any of his factual or legal findings in respect of the seven
charges against the applicant,” she said.
Tengku Maimun further
observed that the bench is not convinced that the trial judge made his
findings based on anything other than the evidence on record. That puts
that matter firmly to rest, as it should have been a long time ago.
An appeal, not a trial
On the declining of an adjournment
of three to four months requested by Teh to prepare for the case, the
judges decided on a single day instead. Which looks reasonable
considering that this is an appeal and not a trial and therefore they
should have had enough time to prepare from the time they first asked
for an adjournment.
In a shock move, Najib dismissed his previous
lawyers, Shafee and Co, and appointed the current ones, Zaid Ibrahim
Suflan TH Liew & Partners, on July 26, which means they had three
weeks to prepare for the case. This does not include the time they would
have taken to study the brief before deciding to accept the case.
It is therefore reasonable to assume that they had enough time to
study the case before agreeing to represent Najib plus another three
weeks from the time they became Najib’s lawyers. More than enough time.
Maimun observed that where a lawyer has accepted a case, he or she
should be deemed as “reasonably certain of being able to appear and
represent the client on the required day” per Rule 24(a) and (b) of the
Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978.
this rule was in place for exactly this reason: to prevent undue delay
of the court process, something the Federal Court recognised.
Maimun continued: “In fact, the appellant, having been well aware of
the dates fixed for hearing, elected to discharge his former solicitors
and appoint Messrs Zaid Ibrahim and Tuan Haji Hisyam Teh as his
solicitors and counsel respectively.
“This is his right to do so
but he cannot, after having made that decision, turn around and say that
his new lawyers are not ready to proceed with the hearing of the
“The new lawyers too, having accepted the brief, are not
entitled to say they need more time to prepare, knowing full well that
the dates had been fixed well in advance,” the chief justice said.
sounds eminently reasonable, fair and persuasive and the diatribe that
the trio of Najib, Teh and Zaid made against the Federal Court and their
“bitter disappointment” with the Federal Court have little, if any
legal or even logical basis.
As a Malaysian, I am proud of our
judicial system, which despite its many failings, has finally brought a
powerful former prime minister who still wields tremendous power and
influence in the government and in the party to the brink of justice.
That too despite the many misgivings of Malaysians, now shown to be
misguided, that this will never happen.
I thought I would never say this again at one time: Tabik to the judiciary and the Federal Court!