Lawyer RSN Rayer today said he had decided to withdraw from representing an accused involved in a citizenship racket case in Penang.
Rayer, who is also Jelutong MP, told the Sessions Court today that despite having no issues representing one of the six accused in the case, he would not allow the matter to be used to slander the good name of Pakatan Harapan and DAP.
Barisan Nasional parties, namely Umno and MIC, had sounded off Rayer for representing the accused in the identity card racket, as it gave the wrong perception. Social media had also seen some accusing Rayer of being in cahoots with the syndicate.
“I am still of the opinion that there is no conflict of interest in representing the accused as our country practises separation of powers.
“Despite me being an MP from the government bench, there are no laws stopping me from being a lawyer in court to defend Lai Chin Wah, who remains innocent until proven guilty.
“However, after giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to recuse myself from this case as I do not want my involvement here to be used as slander by irresponsible quarters,” he said before Judge Norsalha Hamzah today.
Rayer said he was appointed to represent Lai by his family.
On Sept 12, Lai was among five others, including a National Registration Department (JPN) assistant director, detained on suspicion of being part of a syndicate that sold birth certificates and identity cards to mostly China nationals.
The charges were filed under Section 26E of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years, a fine of not less than RM50,000, or both if found guilty.
Bar Council president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor had defended Rayer earlier on, saying it was a constitutional guarantee that every accused person is entitled to be defended by a lawyer of his own choice.
Ramkarpal Singh, who is a fellow MP, had also backed Rayer in representing the accused in the case, saying any criticism against the representation could be construed as “intimidation of counsel in the discharge of his duties”.