Why the ‘hurry’ to hear Najib’s appeal – lawyer

THE Federal Court was today told that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s former counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik was “forced” to continue to represent the former premier in his main SRC International Sdn Bhd’s appeal, despite the lawyer’s request to be discharged. 

Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that Hisyam had informed the court on Aug 18, 2022, of his wish to discharge himself in the SRC International appeal on grounds that he did not have sufficient time to prepare.

On July 26 last year, Najib discharged with immediate effect  Messrs Shafee & Co from representing him in his SRC appeal and appointed Hisyam, from Messrs Hisyam Teh, as his lead counsel and ZIST partners,  Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiaravanam as co-counsels.

Hisyam previously sought to postpone the case for three to four months for him to prepare, but it was dismissed.

Following that, Muhammad Shafee said Hisyam sought to discharge himself from representing Najib and the court also denied the request.

“It was a forced representation by an ineffective counsel who was not prepared. It was a representation by ‘pretense’, supervised by the Federal Court. This right was an illusory right in this case,” he added.

The lawyer also said the refusal to postpone the hearing left Hisyam “unduly shackled” when representing Najib as it left him with insufficient time to prepare.

“Najib’s personal liberty was very much at stake because he had a 12-year imprisonment sentence hanging over his head and an unprecedented colossal fine of RM210 million.

“The court also did not allow my client’s application for adjournment of the main appeal hearing. In the case of some others, the court allows 70 times adjournment, but why couldn’t my client get it once?

“Why so hurry? Was it because the 15th General Election was around the corner? Not allowing adjournment has broken his fundamental rights,” said Muhammad Shafee at the hearing of Najib’s application to review the previous Federal Court ruling in uphold his conviction and 12 years jail sentence and RM210 million fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.

Muhammad Shafee was submitting before the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, who chaired a five-member panel comprising Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan, as well as Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

Muhammad Shafee also concluded that Najib was not given a fair trial during the final appeal last year.

Najib in his review application is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Aug 23 last year in upholding his conviction and 12-year jail sentence and fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.

The hearing continues tomorrow. — Bernama