Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Malaysian High Court decides that it can impose the right to legal representation, determine who represents whom

This seemingly unarguable right to counsel was first introduced in Common Law more 1495, during the reign of Henry VII,(when) the King signed a law which read, translated from ancient English into current vernacular:

After the said writ of writs be returned, the justices shall assign to the same poor person or persons, counsel learned by their discretions, which shall give their counsels nothing taking for the same, and in likewise the same justices shall appoint an attorney and attorneys for the same poor person and persons which shall do their duties without any rewards.

Readers will agree that since 1495 persons appearing before a court have had the right to determine who their legal representatives would be.
Even the Government of Malaysia has on occasion utilised counsel other than the Attorney-General.
However, that has not prevented this gem of a judgement from being handed down by the High Court of Malaysia:

'State legal adviser must represent Speaker' (updated)

IPOH: The High Court has ruled that Perak State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar must be represented by the state legal adviser in a suit brought against him by three independent assemblymen.

The ruling Thursday by Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim would be seen as a blow to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance, whose lawyers have argued that having the state legal adviser representing the Speaker would be a clear conflict of interests.

The suit was filed by assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang) against Sivakumar for declaring their seats vacant using their undated resignation letters.

All three had previously quit from their parties but maintain they had not vacated their seats. Their resignations led to the political crisis in Perak and to the state being taken over by Barisan Nasional after they had pledged their loyalty to the coalition.

They are being represented by Umno legal adviser Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun.

Ridwan had on Tuesday ruled that Sivakumar must be represented by the state legal adviser in a suit filed by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

The Speaker had objected because the state legal adviser had acted for Dr Zambry in a different case last week.

The High Court later set March 11 to hear the case of the three independents who are seeking a declaration that they are still elected representatives.

The suit against Sivakumar challenging his decision to suspend and bar Dr Zambry and his six executive council members from the State Assembly will be heard on March 23.

Time and time again Malaysia's judges prove that they preside over the best system of justice money can buy.