PETALING JAYA, June 3 — Zuraida Kamaruddin accepted responsibility for the appointment of private lawyer Syazlin Mansor to represent her Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire & Rescue Department for the death inquest of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
However, the minister explained that she had not been advised that the Attorney-General’s Chambers must handle such appointments as it involved the government.
“I did the appointment directly on my own and, throughout the inquest, no one raised any issues so I thought everything was okay.
“So, now we have to make things right,” she told reporters during a press conference held at SPEEDHOME’s office here.
The minister stressed that Syazlin’s withdrawal would not influence the outcome of the inquest, and maintained that all prior witnesses’ testimonies and evidence presented to the court throughout the inquest proceedings will be intact.
This included the testimony of Dr Shahrom Abdul Wahid, who caused controversy when he became the only witness to tell the inquest that Adib sustained injuries after he was pulled from an Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) vehicle and assaulted.
“Nothing will be discounted,” she added.
Zuraida also gave assurance that a new deputy public prosecutor (DPP) will be appointed prior to the next inquest hearing date on June 26.
Previously, Zuraida said she discussed the matter with the AGC, which will propose the names of several senior government lawyers to act as counsel in the ongoing inquest to replace Syazlin.
Shazlin had represented the Ministry, the Fire and Rescue Department and Adib’s family for the inquest.
Syazlin, a private lawyer and the wife of Zuraida’s press secretary, abruptly withdrew from the inquest on May 27, stunning the public and sparking rumours of a conspiracy.
Zuraida had said then that the lawyer’s withdrawal was due to a conflict of interest.
Accused of interference, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas was forced to publicly explain the conflict of interest in the engagement of a private lawyer to represent the government while also acting for the fireman’s family.
Thomas also said Syazlin had taken a position contrary to federal counsel acting for the government during the inquest, causing confusion.
Adib’s inquest first commenced on Feb 11, and to date, a total of 29 witnesses have testified.
The inquest is to probe the death of 24-year-old Adib who died last December 17, three weeks after he was severely injured during riots that broke out at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor on November 27.