Nothing wrong in Najib wanting the best lawyers

Zaid Ibrahim, Free Malaysia Today

Much has been written on social media about Najib Razak’s plan to apply for permission to bring a Queen’s Counsel from England to argue his appeal.

Some make fun of his effort, saying his case is a simple case of corruption, and there are enough excellent lawyers in the country for him to turn to.

When you get a 12-year jail sentence, you will try to get the best lawyers you can. Not just Najib, it applies to all of us. There is no need to be dismissive about his application.

When you have cancer, you rush to Gleneagles in Singapore. No one tells you we have a large pool of cancer specialists. When we want to prepare a financial master plan, we call on McKinsey, although we have our own experts.

When we wanted to build the Petronas Twin Towers, we called on architects from New York, although David Teh (my friend incidentally) is a brilliant local architect.

When we look for lawyers to represent us, we face this powerful lobby reminding us that our lawyers are just as good. That we should deny entry of foreign lawyers. This argument has so far persuaded the courts.

I urge the courts not to try to ascertain objectively if we have the best lawyers for a particular case because such an assessment is flawed.

There is no way of knowing if indeed we have enough good lawyers in a particular field. It is also irrelevant. It does not matter even if we have the best lawyers, just as it does not matter if we have the best economists, cancer specialists or architects. When someone needs this expertise and is willing to pay for them, only their opinion counts.

The person whose life or liberty is at stake is the one who should decide that question. We should give more weight to what he thinks instead of some selfish group’s interests trying to protect their turf.

I know there is a strong group out there whom I call Najib haters. Let Najib have his day in court. After all, our Constitution clearly says that everyone has equal protection of the law, including a Malay leader named Najib Razak.