MBPJ admits that Sivarasa’s law firm on panel but denies conflict of interest

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) denied today claims by Raja Petra Kamarudin that it had outsourced legal matters to PKR lawyers.

“In the matter of appointing a panel of lawyers, the power to appoint is under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner only,” MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said today in a press statement.

“Council members may not appoint a law firm but can provide a collective view of the ability and expertise of a law firm to handle cases of the council based on (selected) criteria,” she added.

On Friday, Raja Petra posted details of the purported corruption and conflict of interest in his Malaysia-Today web portal, and had revealed two cases of alleged abuse of power in the state administration.

He named MBPJ councillors Derek Fernandez and Latheefa Koya, MP for Subang R Sivarasa, and PKR vice-president N. Surendran as the group of favoured lawyers.

The controversial blogger had said that the MBPJ’s act of favouritism has caused considerable disquiet among other Pakatan Rakyat councillors.

“It is confirmed that neither Mr Derek Fernandez or his firm Fernandez and Selvarajah are on the list of panel counsel and he has never been awarded any legal work for MBPJ,” Zainun said.

“Mr Fernandez never received any remuneration from the council in providing legal advice. All advice and professional opinion given by Fernandez was provided without charge in respect of the committee meeting related to legal issues,” she added.

Zainun said Surendran and his law firm Edwin, Lim Soh and Suren were also not on MBPJ’s list.

However, she confirmed that Latheefa and Sivarasa’s law firm, Daim and Gamany, is on the council’s panel.

“In relation to (Latheefa Koya and the appointment of Sivarasa from law firm Daim and Gamany)… The MBPJ legal adviser has issued a written statement that since Latheefa is not a partner in the firm and is only an employee, there is no conflict of interest,” she explained.

“(Therefore), Daim and Gamany is included in the panel.”