Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang

Can a statutory declaration clear Rohaizat of the “personal misconduct” resulting in his being struck off the lawyers’ rolls for breach of trust and dishonesty?

Barisan Nasional candidate for Permatang Pasir by-election Rohaizat Othman has said that he would heed Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice to make a statutory declaration to protect himself from accusations made by various quarters.

The two questions Rohaizat must answer are:

  • Whether he was found guilty of “serious misconduct” including “breach of trust, dishonesty, shown gross disregard” of the client’s (Penang Small Rubber Plantation Holders’ Co-operative Society) interests “tantamount to a conduct unbefitting that of an advocate and solicitor which conduct as such brings the legal profession into disrepute” and struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors by the Chairman of the Advocates and Solictors Disciplinary Board Tan Sri Khalid Ahmad Sulaiman on 7th March 2008, which was upheld by the High Court; and

  • Whether a statutory declaration can clear Rohaizat of his “personal conduct” resulting in his being struck off the lawyers’ rolls?

    The first question is one of fact, for which Rohaizat cannot deny even though the Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan had called Rohaizat a hero for assuming responsibility for the improprieties of a former partner, Yusri Ishak. Yusri has since surfaced to point out that it was Rohaizat who was personally responsible for the misappropriation of the client’s monies – for which there has been no rebuttal from Rohaizat.

If the answer to the second question is “yes”, it will have far-reaching implications. Does this mean that the Commissioners of Oath in the country will be having a roaring business as there would be long queues of people who would want to make statutory declarations that they were not guilty of offences they had been convicted.

If the answer to the second question is “no”, then what is the worth of such a statutory declaration?

Tengku Razaleigh has summed it up best with his questions:

“Is Umno so short of people that we have to find a lawyer disbarred for financial dishonesty to stand? Has financial misconduct become so common among us that we no longer see it as a factor in a candidate’s suitability?”