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Bar can act even if complaint withdrawn

PERMATANG PASIR, 19 Aug 2009: The Bar Council can act as a complainant against a lawyer in the event the original complaint is withdrawn, Malaysian Bar secretary George Varughese said today.

Varughese was explaining the decision by the Bar’s disciplinary board to disbar Rohaizat Othman, Barisan Nasional (BN)’s candidate for the Permatang Pasir by-election, from legal practice even though the complainant withdrew the complaint.

In defending Rohaizat as the best candidate for the BN, Umno leaders said that Rohaizat’s disbarment was a non-issue as the complainant, a client who was swindled of RM161,000 by Rohaizat’s former law firm, had subsequently retracted the complaint after the money was repaid.

“If the Bar is of the view that there was dishonesty on the part of the lawyer, the Bar as the profession’s regulating body can intervene and act as the complainant even if the original complaint is withdrawn,” Varughese told The Nut Graph by phone today.

Rohaizat (Courtesy of theSun)
Rohaizat‘s former firm’s client was the Penang Rubber Tappers Co-operative. At a press conference on the night of 18 Aug, Umno leaders brought the co-operative treasurer Umar Hamid to confirm that the matter had been settled.

They also claimed that it was not Rohaizat, but his partner, who had absconded with the money causing Rohaizat to be the one named in the complaint.

The co-operative had written to the Bar Council to overturn the disbarment but did not receive any reply.

The Umno leaders also noted that Rohaizat was not given a chance to explain himself before the Bar’s disciplinary board as he was sick on the day of his hearing and had submitted an official medial chit to prove it.

Varughese said he was not sure about what transpired at the disciplinary board regarding Rohaizat’s medical leave. But he said Rohaizat still had the chance to explain himself when he appealed his disbarment at the High Court.

“He still had the avenue to give his side of the story to the High Court, and yet the court dismissed his appeal,” Varughese said.

Rohaizat’s disbarment does not disqualify him from contesting the election but has put BN on the defensive. He faces PAS’s Mohd Salleh Man in a straight fight. Polling is on 25 Aug.

See also:
PAS harps on Rohaizat’s disbarment

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