“Khalid-icised” The Lawyers

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

From Khalid’s refusal to step down, initiate legal proceeding against online media, The Malaysian Insider to sacking 5 State EXCO from holding office, the arena has now moved to politicising lawyers by launching baseless personal remark against professionalism of a member of the Bar.

Edmund Bon Tai Soon and New Sin Yew who have represented the independent Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim were accused by two politician lawyers, N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya on assaulting freedom of press, after both Bon and New have accepted the brief from TSKI to sue The Malaysian Insider. According to TSKI’s claim, Malaysian Insider has uttered defamatory articles/statements against TSKI, including but not limited to the issues of Kidex, revision of MB & EXCO’s allowance, etc.

YB N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya being part and parcel of PKR, criticised Bon and New incompetent and unprincipled in taking the brief, simply because TSKI has been sacked by PKR and no longer a person that the party like anymore. Following such line of argument, due to TSKI’s stubbornness to abide by the party’s instruction, he is now a bad guy. And lawyers shouldn’t help a bad guy.

Both YB Surendran and Latheefa are practising advocates & solicitors. Though they are politician lawyers, they should appreciate the cab-rank rule better than anyone else. 

Rule 2 of Legal Profession (Practice & Etiquette) Rules 1978 observes, an advocate & solicitor shall accept brief except in justifiable circumstances. This is also known as the Cab-Rank Rule. Cab-Rank Rule is a shorthand of professional obligation to accept brief upon instruction of client regardless of any personal dislike.

It is like a cabbie waiting for customer in a taxi waiting station. He cannot refuse to carry passenger except in limited circumstances. 

Likewise, being an advocate & solicitor, professionalism remains, perception aside. I see no cogent reasons why Bon and New should not accept TSKI’s brief, merely because TSKI refused to follow PKR’s leadership and caused the chaos among the Pakatan Rakyat as well as “malfunctioned” the state government. If Bon and New refused the brief by observing own political agenda and perception – that TSKI is wrong in not stepping down as MB, then they are lack of professionalism.

Put the defamatory suit aside first.

December 2012, a 23 year old student was brutally gang-raped by 6 people and died much later. The Indian Bar then refused to represent the accused, due to the serious gravity of the alleged crime, but also because the solicitors faced hostility when acting for them. To then, the Bar Council (India) urged the Indian Bar to end its refusal as everyone will be presumed innocent until proven guilty, including the 6 gang-rape accused. 

To put further, the presence of an advocate & solicitor is to defend the system. Clients come and go, but system would not vanish. Democracy cannot survive if lawyers who provide legal assistance can be simply condemned and intimidated into boycotting a person’s right to be represented because of public criticism.

Emotional, political perception and morality must be differentiated from professional conduct. Read the scenario properly. TSKI gives instruction, lawyers accept the brief and file suit on behalf. Who is the client? TSKI. If you want to allege assault on freedom of press, point your finger to the client but not the lawyers.

This is where political belief overrides professional practice and pride. 

Khalid-icised the lawyers would not uphold own political visions, but personal attack do. 

Know your target well before pulling the trigger.

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