Malaysia

Second letter claims Shafee attending law conference, not special assignment

By Clara Chooi
April 18, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — A second letter surfaced today from Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s legal firm, this time claiming that the prominent Umno lawyer has to be in Sydney for a law conference this month, instead of the “sensitive legal assignment” commissioned by the prime minister and his wife.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the letter was raised today in the Court of Appeal during an appeal hearing in which Shafee was the appointed counsel.

According to the letter, sighted this evening by The Malaysian Insider, Shafee’s firm had written on April 9 seeking to postpone today’s hearing, citing his participation in the law conference as reason.

“Please note that Dato’ Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah will be in Sydney for the Commonwealth Law Conference as a participant from 18th to the 22nd of April 2012,” the letter read.

The Malaysian Insider understands, however, that Shafee’s request for adjournment today was refused by Court of Appeal Justices Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, Datuk Clement Allan Skinner and Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim.

The appeal subsequently proceeded and Shafee’s client’s appeal was argued by other lawyers and dismissed with costs.

But the dates stated in Shafee’s April 9 letter contradicts with the lawyer’s March 23 correspondence, also seeking adjournments, to Chief Justice Tan Sri Ariffin Zakaria, Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

In the March letter, first exposed in Parliament yesterday by PKR lawmaker Saifuddin Nasution, Shafee had sought for all his cases from April 1 to 25 to be vacated as he had to travel abroad for a “sensitive legal assignment”.

The “assignment”, according to the letter, was purportedly on orders from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and entails travel across the globe to cities like New York, London, Dubai, Paris and Basel, in Switzerland.

The letter did not mention Shafee’s participation in the Sydney law conference.

It also did not specify the nature of the “legal assignment” but stressed that the mission “must be completed before the general election”.

When responding in the House yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said that Shafee may have “misrepresented” himself for stating in the letter that he was on assignment for the government.

The minister pointed out that the government cannot appoint a lawyer for the wife of the prime minister.

Today, PKR demanded Najib explain Shafees alleged “secret mission” abroad and asked if it was related to the ongoing Scorpene submarine sale probe by French authorities.

Recent media reports have pinned Najib to the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal by French authorities, which has also been linked to the brutal murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Altantuya’s alleged one-time lover Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close associate of Najib’s, was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — to commit the 2006 murder.

Last week, Altantuya’s father Dr Setev Shaariibuu told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as witness in the submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the Scorpene case.