Shafee defends unsavoury comments about Anwar and role in cross-dressing case at ASEAN forum
FMT Reporters | March 24, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah yesterday sought to justify his role as lead counsel for the Negeri Sembilan State Government in a case involving Muslim transgenders and various unsavoury public comments which he made about Anwar Ibrahim at an international human rights forum yesterday, the Malay Mail reports.
He was speaking during a dialogue session with representatives from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
Shafee is set to argue the State’s appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal which held on November 7 last year that Muslim transgender males had the right to cross-dress and that Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment which said otherwise was unconstitutional.
Denying that he was homophobic, Shafee is reported to have told the forum, “If you think that I am anti-gay or anti-homosexual, you’re dead wrong because three of my favourite relatives are gay.”
Seeking to justify the right of the state to appeal, Shafee said that the “danger” of the Court of Appeal’s decision in that case was that it would encourage Muslim women to claim to be constitutionally entitled to be appointed as imams in mosques.
As regards comments made against Anwar at roadshows held after Anwar’s conviction was upheld by the Federal Court, Shafee said, “You’ll be quite surprised to know why I made certain statements. It was purely to protect the integrity of the judiciary.”
Shafee was widely reported to have called Anwar a “closet homosexual” at the roadshows and to have made other unsavoury and inappropriate comments about the case.
His conduct drew ire from various quarters, notably former Attorney General Abu Talib Osman, opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang and the Bar Council.
Refuting suggestions that such conduct compromised his position as a human rights advocate, Shafee said, “I’m consistent because if the judiciary is corrupt, I’ll go after it. But if the judiciary is not corrupt [and] someone alleges it of lacking integrity, I’ll go after that person,”
He said that he had no qualms about taking to task the judiciary, which he claims he did in 1990 when he purportedly uncovered proof of corruption against four judges, which resulted in him having to seek refuge in Sabah.
Malaysia is hosting a four-day AIHCR meeting which is discussing the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN. The meeting is being chaired by Shafee.