Blames Shafee for Najib’s imprisonment.
Lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has fired his salvo against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah over the latter’s remarks that it was his firm’s incompetence that got Najib in hot soup during the SRC International Sdn Bhd final appeal.
Describing his relationship with Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners (Zist) as acrimonious, Shafee said the firm failed to tell Najib the truth by acting in “blind confidence” that the court would grant them an adjournment of the case.
Instead, Zaid said it was Shafee’s incompetency that led Najib to his difficulties and this, in turn, led him to advise Najib’s team to change the former prime minister’s lawyer if they wanted a different outcome at the Federal Court level.
“And I said so in all honesty. You see, Shafee is a showman. He is not a good lawyer.
“But, of course, in the kingdom of the blind, (the one-eyed man) is king,” Zaid said in a video posted to his Facebook page on Friday (Jan 20).
Zaid also explained how he got involved with the case.
“There was desperation in Najib’s camp when he lost many applications at the High Court and Court of Appeal. They asked for our view, and I said it was Shafee’s incompetency that led to this.
“If you want a different route at the last stage, which is at the Federal Court, you have to change Shafee.
“His (Shafee) approach is scattergun in the sense that you know, one day you can hear him say there is a political conspiracy behind all this charging.
“Secondly, he says the then High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali may run foul of corruption or bribery. There were allegations of cash in his account,” he said.
Zaid said this scattergun approach by Shafee was the crux of the problem.
“I suggested Najib to change the lawyer to focus on one particular issue which I thought was very important for Najib’s defence, which was conflict of interest.
“I have told the team that, attacking Nazlan’s capability or integrity is stupid because Nazlan is a man of integrity.
“His (Nazlan) problem was his involvement with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) when he was with Maybank.
“That could be a problem in the sense of conflict of interest. That’s all we can go big on him,” he said.
Zaid said he also suggested Najib there was no need to seek the Queen’s Counsel or barristers from England to handle the matter, as the best lawyers such cases were from India because of their similar experience in addressing the money laundering act.
“So, we brought them to see Najib and he was convinced with our approach and decided to abandon Shafee.
“Shafee was furious and he even refused to hand over the case files until we got Najib to write a letter terminating his services.
“I am not directly responsible for my client’s change of mind. It is a collective decision,” he said.
On July 26, last year, Najib replaced his long-time counsel (Shafee) with Zist to handle his final appeal at the Apex Court.
Zist engaged lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as the lead counsel.
Zaid said his firm was not to blame for Najib’s incarceration as they had done a good job trying to reshape and focus Najib’s approach.
He admitted that his firm was “too hopeful” for the court to grant them an adjournment as they had just taken over the matter and insisted that they were not to be blamed.
“We narrow it down to conflict of interest, adducing additional evidence, Nazlan’s role when he was in Maybank.
“We thought that was the legitimate issue to be raised at the Federal Court level.
“We were hopeful the court would grant us adjournment to give us time to read the case. But we were not, and our services were terminated.
“We did our best within that five weeks. So, it is very sad for me in a way, that this view expressed by Shafee yesterday was supported by Najib,” he said.
However, as they failed to get an adjournment in the matter, Zist was discharged by Najib mid-way through the appeal on Aug 19, 2022.