Kuala Lumpur, June 29 — The Malaysian Bar has objected to the application for a Queen’s Counsel from the UK, Jonathan Laidlaw, to represent Najib Razak in the former prime minister’s final appeal in his SRC International case on the misappropriation of RM42 million.
Bar secretary B Anand Raj, in an affidavit filed on June 27, said Najib’s current lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah possessed more experience and qualifications than Laidlaw, and that there were over 20,000 other experienced lawyers in Malaysia for the former prime minister to choose from.
Anand said Shafee himself possessed extensive knowledge and vast experience as he had appeared in and argued numerous cases involving the criminal legal provisions and charges related to the Pekan MP’s appeal.
“Given the fact that Shafee and his legal team have been involved in the subject case and are familiar with the charges and the statutory provisions involved from the inception, it is the considered view of the Malaysian Bar that Shafee himself possesses greater experience and qualifications in respect of the issues pending in the appeal, more so than the applicant (Laidlaw),” he said.
Anand added that it was only in the early years after Malaysia attained independence from the UK in 1957 when there was a limited number of local lawyers that there was some need for assistance from QCs and other foreign experts.
“Today, in 2022, 65 years post-independence, the Malaysian Bar has grown in strength, quantitatively and qualitatively. We have 21,659 advocates and solicitors who are in possession of a valid annual and practising certificate as of June 27, 2022.”
“There are many advocates and solicitors with subject matter expertise and experience in criminal defence litigation, up to the highest appellate tiers. A perusal of the applicant’s (Laidlaw’s) qualifications and experience as set out in the said affidavit (by Shafee) reveals that he is an eminent QC in the UK and has varied and extensive experience in various jurisdictions.”
“He does not, however, have the special qualifications or experience in the Malaysian legal system, the Malaysian criminal system and other related jurisprudence required for the appeal,” he said.
He added that Laidlaw had not demonstrated any familiarity with Malaysia’s evolving local statutes, practices and procedures since it gained independence.
The application for a QC will be heard at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on July 6 before judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid.