Lawyers today derided Tan Sri Muhd Shafee Abdullah for seeking a court injunction prohibiting the Malaysian Bar from discussing his allegedly questionable behaviour after the Federal Court convicted Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy.
BY BOO SU-LYN | Saturday March 14, 2015 06:08 PM GMT+8
KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Lawyers today derided Tan Sri Muhd Shafee Abdullah for seeking a court injunction prohibiting the Malaysian Bar from discussing his allegedly questionable behaviour after the Federal Court convicted Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy.
Members of the Malaysian Bar polled at the sidelines of the professional legal body’s annual general meeting (AGM) today pointed out that president Christopher Leong had allowed the debate of a motion censuring him.
“I think it’s cowardly he (Shafee) didn’t allow this to be debated,” lawyer Daniel Bong told Malay Mail Online.
“But I think in any case, he’s seeing the purpose of the motion. By getting the injunction, he’s drawing more attention to it. I think if you think you’re right, you must be courageous enough to defend it,” added the lawyer who practises in Kuala Lumpur.
Senior lawyer Tommy Thomas had proposed a motion to censure Shafee’s conduct, which was seconded by former Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri VC George who has since returned as a practising lawyer.
But Shafee yesterday secured an injunction from the Kuala Lumpur High Court prohibiting the Bar from deliberating on his conduct as a lawyer following the conviction and sentencing of Anwar to five years’ jail for sodomy.
Shafee, a private lawyer linked to Umno, was authorised and appointed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to head the government’s prosecution team against Anwar at the Federal Court.
Jamie Wong, who practises in Kuala Lumpur, said the Malaysian Bar should have been allowed to deliberate on Shafee’s behaviour, if not for the injunction.
“Even the president of the Bar was subjected to it,” Wong told Malay Mail Online, echoing Bong’s sentiment.
Leong ruled earlier today to allow a motion at the AGM that called for a retraction of his statement questioning Anwar’s prosecution and for him to apologise to the judiciary.
The Malaysian Bar later overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, with 1,194 votes against it to 161 in favour of it.
Farez Jinnah, a lawyer from Selangor, highlighted the differences in the way Leong and Shafee responded to the motions proposed against them.
“Chris might be brave enough to go through it, but Shafee may not want to meet his detractors head on, and that may be something for him to explain himself,” Farez told Malay Mail Online.
Lawyer HR Dipendra said legal practitioners should follow the same standards they preach.
“It cannot be okay to discuss publicly your conduct of a case and then prohibit the profession from discussing your conduct,” Dipendra told Malay Mail Online.
Lawyer New Sin Yew said Shafee should have allowed the Bar to debate the motion censuring the Umno-linked lawyer in the interest of free speech.
“As the chairperson of AICHR (ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights), he should recognise the importance of safeguarding the freedom of speech and having a healthy debate on his conduct as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya,” New told Malay Mail Online.
Among other things, the motion proposed by Tommy alleged that Shafee had violated rules governing the legal profession, while also saying that his conduct was “morally reprehensible and legally unacceptable”.
The motion urged the Malaysian Bar to pass a resolution to condemn Shafee’s behaviour, to lodge a complaint with the Disciplinary Board and to take further steps in order to prevent Shafee from “continuing to bring the legal profession into disrepute.”
Following Anwar’s conviction, Shafee participated in an Umno-organised roadshow and gave media interviews in which he continued to attack the federal opposition leader, notably including calling him a “closet homosexual” during one public forum.
On February 10, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s conviction of Anwar for sodomising his former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, also retaining a five-year jail sentence.