CJ husband’s FB posting was a general comment of the ‘rakyat’ – DPP

PUTRAJAYA – The Federal Court today was told that the Facebook posting of the husband of Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat in 2018 does not show the latter had any personal animosity towards Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but rather was a general comment of the “rakyat” on social media.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said this was because the posting was a mere personal commentary on the political scenario that led up to the 14th General Election results.

“There was no nexus between the posting which was published on May 11, 2018, and Najib’s appeals before the Federal Court on Aug 23 last year. It is incredible that the applicant (Najib) only found out about this FB posting on Aug 22 last year, on the eve of the continued appeals hearing on Aug 23.

“The filing of the recusal (of the CJ) application was a desperate last-minute attempt to scuttle the appeals. What a phenomenal coincidence that the applicant found out from a public FB posting hours before the conclusion of the appeals hearing on Aug 23 last year.

“My Lord, the truth is they knew of the posting but had found it to be unworthy of a recusal application earlier. The eleventh-hour application was pure desperation to adjourn the appeals,” he said.

On the appointment of Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew (ZIST), the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) said the sole purpose of the firm taking over the SRC International case last year was to ask for an adjournment.

Sithambaram said the firm should not take over the case from Messrs Shafee & Co if they were not prepared to proceed with the appeals on the dates fixed for hearing in August 2022.

“Messrs ZIST took over the case with the sole purpose of asking for an adjournment of the case. It must be remembered that the hearing dates of the main appeals were fixed four months earlier at the request of the applicant’s solicitors, Messrs Shafee & Co.

“Whilst Najib had a right to appoint a solicitor of his choice, this must be done in good time so as not to scuttle the hearing dates fixed four months earlier by consent of all parties,” he said adding that the conduct of the applicant’s solicitors or counsel cannot be condoned for otherwise it means that an adjournment can always be sought of new solicitors or counsel taking over an already fixed hearing case.

Explaining the action taken by Najib’s ex-counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik to discharge himself from representing the former prime minister, the DPP stressed that the Apex Court had the discretion whether to allow counsel to discharge himself, especially in the midst of a hearing.

Sithambaram said counsel who could not get an adjournment of the appeals cannot be allowed by the backdoor method to postpone the appeals by a tactical strategy of discharging himself.

He further submitted that discharging Messrs Shafee & Co from representing the applicant was a strategic move by Najib to adjourn the appeals.

“We say this because the firm continued to act for the applicant in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case at all relevant times. Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah appeared for Najib in the recusal application in these appeals. Therefore, the discharge of Messrs Shafee & Co was a dubious move to force the court to postpone the appeals.” 

The veteran prosecutor said this at the hearing of Najib’s application to review the previous Federal Court ruling in upholding his conviction and 12 years’ jail sentence and RM210 million fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.

He submitted this before the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, who chaired a five-member panel which included Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

Najib, in his review application, is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Justice Tengku Maimun on Aug 23 last year in upholding his conviction and 12-year jail sentence and fine. – Bernama