Bekas hakim kanan Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, yang menimbulkan kekecohan apabila muncul di mahkamah Oktober lalu untuk mengetuai pasukan pembelaan dalam perbicaraan akhir rayuan sabitan kes liwat Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, dipaksa meninggalkan firma undang-undang Soo Thien Ming & Nashrah semasa pendengaran berlangsung, kata sumber.
Sumber memberitahu The Malaysian Insider, Sri Ram, 71, bagaimanapun kekal sebagai peguam Anwar sehingga rayuan kes liwat itu diputuskan.
"Ia tidak jelas sama ada Sri Ram diarahkan berhenti kerana tekanan luar digunakan terhadap firma itu kerana muncul dalam kes profil tinggi Anwar atau rakan kongsi ketakutan apabila melihat perunding mereka mempunyai peranan langsung dalam kes itu," kata sumber berkenaan.
Bekas hakim Mahkamah Persekutuan itu menyertai Soo Thien Ming & Nashrah sebagai perunding tidak lama selepas bersara pada 2010.
Firma undang-undang yang terletak di Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur itu menguruskan hal litigasi dan pemindahan hak dan pelanggan, termasuk syarikat-syarikat berkaitan kerajaan serta institusi kewangan.
Rakan kongsi pengurusan Soo Thien Ming tidak dapat dihubungi untuk mendapatkan komen kerana berada di luar negara.
Sri Ram, ketika dihubungi enggan mengulas berkenaan hal itu tetapi berkata beliau menubuhkan syarikat sendiri pada bulan lepas.
Katanya, beliau kini mempunyai lebih fleksibiliti dan boleh mengambil sebarang kerja yang dipilih.
"Selepas kes Anwar, saya membuat keputusan amalan yang saya terlibat dalam membawa banyak konflik. Oleh itu, saya tidak boleh hadir sebagai peguam atau memberi nasihat di firma (sebelumnya) terbabit," katanya.
Rayuan kes Anwar di Mahkamah Persekutuan yang bermula pada 28 Oktober menyaksikan Sri Ram berhadapan dengan peguam Umno Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, yang diberikan lesen sementara sebagai timbalan pendakwa raya.
Rayuan Anwar ialah kes pertama bagi Sri Ram sejak beliau bersara sebagai hakim selepas lapan hari berhadapan panel lima hakim yang dipengerusikan Ketua Hakim Negara Tun Arifin Zakaria.
Dalam temubual bersama The Malaysian Insider tidak lama selepas pendengaran Mahkamah Persekutuan itu, Sri Ram ketika ditanya apa yang membuatkan beliau mengambil kes rayuan liwat Anwar berkata: "Saya seperti teksi dan mesti berkhidmat kepada mana-mana penumpang yang menahan saya."
Beliau berkata akan mewakili sesiapa sahaja dalam kes jenayah asalkan tidak ada konflik kepentingan.
Sri Ram yang membuat keputusan bagi kes jenayah dan sivil yang sering dipetik peguam, juga berkata beliau mengambil kes ketua pembangkang itu seolah-olah "kehidupan dan kebebasan" beliau turut terlibat.
Pada awal Mac tahun lepas, Mahkamah Rayuan mensabitkan Anwar atas tuduhan meliwat bekas pembantunya, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan di sebuah unit kondominium Desa Damansara di Bukit Damansara pada 2008.
Beliau dijatuhi hukuman penjara lima tahun, tetapi mahkamah memberi penangguhan hukuman sementara menunggu rayuannya di Mahkamah Persekutuan.
Kerjaya politik Anwar sebagai wakil rakyat akan berakhir jika Mahkamah Persekutuan menyokong keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan kerana beliau akan hilang kelayakan jawatan jika didenda lebih RM2,000 atau penjara lebih setahun. – tmi
Gopal: We mutually agreed to part company...
Denying that he was pressured to bow out from the firm following his decision to represent Anwar Ibrahim in the Sodomy II case before the Federal Court, Sri Ram said he was still good friends with the firm.
"Please do not create stories that will affect our friendship," he told Malaysiakini.
Sri Ram said this when asked about a report by The Malaysian Insider that he was pressured to leave the firm for representing Anwar, a move that has surprised many.
He said he has formed his own firm following their mutual agreement for him to leave as a consultant with Soo Thien Ming & Nashrah.
"I just wanted to do cases I liked, so that there is no conflict," Sri Ram said, without elaborating further.
Before entering the judiciary from private practice, he founded the legal firm Sri Ram & Co, whose name remained till today.
Sri Ram was the first to be appointed from private practice straight to the Court of Appeal, in 1994.
Known for delivering judgments immediately after hearing submissions from lawyers, he was not promoted for many years remained an appelate judge.
He was finally appointed to the apex court by former chief justice Zaki Azmi in 2009.
Sri Ram, who is 70, retired as Federal Court judge in 2010 at the age of 66, the mandatory retirement age for judges.
Returning lawyer, critical cases
As a returning lawyer, he appeared mostly at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court, on several cases, albeit some controversial ones, in which he was scheduled to represent Pakatan Rakyat on several election petition cases.
He also appeared for Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) in its suit against the Selangor government.
However, the biggest surprise was when he appeared as the leading counsel for Anwar's defence team, taking over from the late Bukit Gelugor MP and DAP stalwart Karpal Singh, and senior lawyer and former Bar Council chairperson Sulaiman Abdullah, who had not fully recovered from a surgery.
His move to represent Anwar was heavily criticised.
Responding to the rap, Sri Ram said a lawyer is "like a cab driver, where if someone stops him, he takes them in".
Sri Ram appeared in Anwar's appeal hearing at the Federal Court, where submissions were heard for eight days and for which judgment is still pending.
Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria has hinted that Anwar's verdict could be delivered after six months, citing that judges at the upper courts are given leeway in terms of time to deliver the judgments if the case is complex.- mk
IGP: Memang ada orang M'sia anggotai 14K...
Ketua Polis Negara Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar sekali lagi mengeluarkan penafian secara halus kepada peguam kanan, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah berhubung tuduhan mengenai individu digelar raja judi, Paul Phua.
Khalid tetap enggan mengulas mengenai kenyataan terbaru Shafee, namun dilihat mempertahankan hasil siasatan polis ke atas Phua.
"Saya hanya boleh tekankan bahawa 14K (satu kumpulan jenayah terancang antarabangsa) tidak wujud di sini, ada rakyat Malaysia di luar negara yang diketahui sebagai anggota kongsi gelap ini.
"Bagaimana orang mahu tafsir kenyataan itu terpulang pada mereka.
"Tapi sebelum saya kata sebelum ini, saya tidak akan komen lebih lanjut kerana ia akan menjejaskan prosiding mahkamah di Amerika Syarikat,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan kepada Malaysiakini.
Khalid diminta mengulas kenyataan Shafee pada Rabu lalu yang menunjukkan bahawa polis bertindak dengan salah kerana mengaitkan anak guamnya dengan 14K – memandangkan kongsi gelap itu tidak wujud di Malaysia.
Individu digelar raja judi itu serta anaknya menghadapi tuduhan menjalankan operasi perjudian haram di Las Vegas pada tahun lalu.
Pihak berkuasa AS menuduh Phua menganggotai kongsi gelap berpengkalan di Hong Kong itu berdasarkan maklumat yang menurut mereka dibekalkan oleh PDRM.
Shafee telahpun menafikan laporan Malaysiakini, yang memetik sumber polis, bahawa siasatan pasukan itu ke atas Phua tidak salah.
Dalam menafikan laporan tersebut, Shafee berkata beliau “berpegang kepada apa yang disebut IGP”.
Kenyataan itu menimbulkan lebih banyak persoalan kerana ketua polis itu tetap berdiam diri dalam kes tersebut.- mk
Plot thickens as IGP hints 'kingpin' findings correct...
While he refused to comment on Shafee's recent remarks, Khalid, however, appeared to defend the police findings concerning alleged Malaysian gambling kingpin Paul Phua.
"I can only reiterate that while 14K (a transnational crime organisation) does not exist here, there are Malaysians abroad who are known to be members of the triad.
"How people wish to interpret this statement (above) is up to them,” Khalid told Malaysiakini in a text message.
"But as I said before, I would not comment further because it would jeopardise the court proceedings in the United States."
Khalid was asked to respond to Shafee, who again on Wednesday suggested that the police were wrong to link his client to the 14K triad - said to be world’s second largest triad group - since 14K did not exist in Malaysia.
The alleged kingpin, with business interests abroad, and his son, Darren, are standing trial in the US for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation in Las Vegas in July last year.
To bolster their case, US authorities have accused Phua of being a member of the Hong Kong-based 14K triad, information they said was supplied by the Malaysian police.
In dismissing a Malaysiakini report on police sources claiming that their investigation report on Phua was not erroneous, Shafee said that he "stands by what the IGP had said".
This remark raised more questions, since the police chief has always maintained silence on the case.
Last Saturday, the Umno-linked lawyer said the police made a ‘very big’ mistake in linking Phua to the 14K triad, which explained the reason behind Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi penning a letter in defence of Phua to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Shafee said the minister had wanted to set the record straight.
However, Zahid's letter was withdrawn from a Nevada District Court after Putrajaya objected to it being used for Phua's defence.
Sources had also told Malaysiakini that the minister did not consult the police before sending the letter to FBI.
The opposition has demanded answers on this matter from Zahid and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
PKR has also accused Zahid of breaching diplomatic convention in bypassing the Foreign Ministry to issue the letter.
The party plans to file a police report against the minister and Shafee.
'Zahid would have failed English test'
Meanwhile, Zahid reportedly claimed that his Dec 18, 2014 letter to the FBI was "to confirm" that 14K did not exist in Malaysia and Phua is not a member of the criminal organisation.
According to him, the letter was requested by the legal firm Chesnoff & Schonfeld, which is representing Phua and his son.
Commenting on this, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang fired a sarcastic salvo at Zahid.
He remarked that the minister "would have failed his (English) comprehension test in school if he really believed in what he said" in the letter.
"In the first place, Zahid's letter was not just to 'confirm' that the 14K triad did not exist in the country.
"He clearly vouched for the character of Phua and as good as declared Phua a 'national asset' when he pleaded for his release when he wrote Phua had helped the Malaysian government on 'projects affecting national security' and 'we continue to call upon him to assist us from time to time and as such, are eager for him to return'.
"Zahid had mortgaged the reputation of Malaysia and undermined our national sovereignty in writing such a plea to the FBI, for any such letter should have been written by the police and not by the home minister - assuming that the facts Zahid referred to were true - via the Foreign Ministry," Lim said.
Lim also asked if Zahid was pleading that he did not really understand the importance of his "infamous" letter to the FBI.
"And if so, who was the real author of his letter?" he questioned.
Training his guns on Najib, the DAP parliamentary leader wondered how the prime minister would deal with this scandal.
"Or would he just do what he is now very good at, just bury his head in the sand?" Lim asked.- mk
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