Stop harassing lawyers for carrying out duties, says LFL

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Zaid (centre) said MACC has no right to intimidate Lo (left) and Lai (right) and must stop such practice as it is against the public‘s right to legal representation.

Zaid (centre) said MACC has no right to intimidate Lo (left) and Lai (right) and must stop such practice as it is against the public‘s right to legal representation.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) director Zaid Malek has demanded that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) not intimidate and harass lawyers under the pretext of conducting an investigation, stating that the agency’s recent actions against two lawyers have undermined the public’s right to legal representation.

The two lawyers, Lai Chee Hoe and Irwin Lo, represented a strata management corporation for different cases at the High Court. 

Lai was questioned by the MACC at both his office and the agency’s Putrajaya headquarters on June 4 and was subsequently remanded for investigation on June 5. He was released on bail on June 6 with his lawyer’s representation. 

“On the course of being released, I was given three conditions: Do not take any action against MACC or attend a press conference of such nature. Do not appear as the chairman of the AGM for the client and withdraw from the suit and stop my representation for the client," Lai said at the press conference organised by LFL. 

MACC also questioned Lo on June 7 on the pretext that he had represented the same client. He said during the questioning an officer who declined to identify himself asked him to advise his client to “be more transparent”, implying that the litigation was initiated for personal gain.

“(The officer) adopted a more confrontational tone, and sarcastic and potentially intimidating remarks were made. He said I should advise my client to be transparent and honest with proprietors regarding the need to engage lawyers (for litigation of such nature),” Lo said. 

Both Lai and Lo were asked by the MACC to provide documents related to their cases, which they said is a breach of client-attorney privileges, as well as letters of their appointments. Both declined to reveal their client’s identity at the press conference. 

Zaid said what happened to the lawyers might not be the first time and would embolden the officers if not stopped. 

“We demand an explanation from MACC chief commissioner (Tan Sri) Azam Baki why lawyers are being arrested and detained for carrying out their professional duties. He must explain why an MACC officer demanded a lawyer to withdraw from representing his client. The MACC chief commissioner must ensure that this is stopped and reassure the public that the rule of law is upheld. 

"Lastly, the government must intervene. Any law enforcement agency cannot intimidate lawyers and ask them to stop from acting on behalf of their client,” he added. 


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