See you in court, Bar president tells Zaid

(FMT) – Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah is ready to face Zaid Ibrahim and two of his partners in court over a press statement issued on their conduct in former prime minister Najib Razak’s SRC International appeal.

Cheah said she has appointed two lawyers and instructed them to accept the service of process in the event that Zaid and his partners proceed with the suit.

“We vehemently deny all the allegations raised by them and stand by the press statement issued (by the Bar).

“We are ready to face them in court,” Cheah told reporters on the sidelines of the Malaysian Bar Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony here.

She contended that the press statement contained matters of public interest, administration of justice and standards of the legal profession. It also reflected the objectives of the Bar, she said.

On Aug 29, Zaid and two of his partners demanded Cheah apologise over her statement which they claimed was “a grave and serious libel” on their conduct as Najib’s solicitors in his SRC International appeal before the Federal Court.

They had given her until today to retract the statement and apologise, failing which they would initiate legal action.

Cheah said the appointed lawyers — Andrew Chiew and N Nahendran — replied to Zaid and his partners’ letter of demand around 3.30pm today.

On Aug 30, Najib’s lead counsel in his SRC International case, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, also said Cheah “will be hearing from him” over the Bar’s press statement.

However, Cheah today said she had not received any letter of demand from Hisyam.

She also said the Bar would be studying recordings of all press statements and speeches given by lawyers relating to high-profile cases to see if there had been any breach of law or rules governing the legal profession.

These recordings include press statements given after court proceedings and speeches by Zaid and fellow lawyer Shafee Abdullah at the Umno special briefing on Saturday.

After the apex court turned down several requests for additional time to prepare for the appeal, Najib discharged Zaid’s legal firm, Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners, from representing him in his SRC International appeal on Aug 18.

A similar request to discharge Hisyam as lead counsel was rejected by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

On Aug 23, the Federal Court unanimously affirmed Najib’s conviction on all seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering brought in respect of SRC International funds totalling RM42 million.