Najib Razak's newly appointed lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik is seeking to recuse himself from representing the former prime minister in his SRC International appeal, saying he needs more time as he is not prepared for the case.
Hisyam, who was appointed by Najib as his new lead counsel on July 26 to replace Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said this before Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who chaired a five-member panel on the first day of Najib’s appeal.
However, Tengku Maimun said that as a counsel, Hisyam should not walk away and should carry out his duty to represent his client.
The others judges on the panel are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Nallini Pathmanathan, Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd.
Tengku Maimun told Hisyam that the bench had heard his request for a postponement on Tuesday and had given their grounds for rejecting his application.
"We reiterate that we have given the broad grounds. Are you aware that as a superior court, we have the inherent jurisdiction to administer justice, and that our jurisdiction is to ensure that the court functions?
"Do you accept that? Your client will be unrepresented. If you discharge (yourself), you will leave him unrepresented. Do you accept that?" she said.
Hisyam answered that he accepted everything Tengku Maimun was saying.
"... but under the circumstances, I cannot continue to represent Najib," he said.
To this, Tengku Maimun replied: "But you still need our permission to discharge yourself. You should have filed an affidavit first. Counsels should not just walk away without telling the court.
"In our mind, you can handle the case and you have many counsels available," she said before calling for a short stand-down to decide on the matter.
The court on Tuesday dismissed Najib’s application to postpone the appeal hearing and directed that the proceedings continue today.
The court also denied the Pekan MP's bid to adduce new evidence in his attempt to nullify the trial.
The hearing of the appeal has been fixed from Aug 15 to 19 and Aug 23 to 26.