Muhyiddin calls Bar Council fines parking tickets

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By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

PERMATANG PASIR, Aug 19 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hit out at the Bar Council today for having an agenda against Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate for the by-election here, after it was revealed the Umno man was a disbarred lawyer.

The Bar Council had issued a statement following queries from the media yesterday confirming that Rohaizat Othman, the candidate, was a disbarred lawyer.

Rohaizat had been disbarred last year after he was found guilty by the Bar Council’s disciplinary committee of misconduct by failing to return RM161,000 belonging to his client, the Penang Rubber Smallholders’ Cooperative.

The Bar Council also clarified that Rohaizat had been found guilty of personal misconduct and had lost his appeal against the decision in the High Court last Wednesday, five days before Umno nominated him for the by-election.

The Bar Council’s statement contradicts Rohaizat’s version of the events. The candidate blames his partner in his law firm for committing the misconduct.

But the Bar Council says it does not hold lawyers liable for the actions of their partners.

Speaking to reporters today, Muhyiddin said: “We don’t know what is the agenda of the Bar Council.

“It is as if they are on the side of certain quarters. I am sure they have some agenda.”

The deputy Umno president attempted to downplay the issue and said the campaign should not be burdened by the issues surrounding its candidate.

“The important point is that the Elections Commission has cleared him,” said Muhyiddin.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pins the blame for having a disbarred lawyer as a BN candidate squarely on the Bar Council. — Picture by Jack Ooi

Rohaizat’s disbarment has overshadowed other issues in the campaign, with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders hammering home the issue at all its public rallies.

PR and PAS leaders are also urging Rohaizat to withdraw as a candidate.

His candidacy has become a major embarrassment for Umno as it brings up questions about the party’s vetting process.

Besides providing fodder for PR’s campaign, it is also becoming a distraction for Umno who were hoping to press home their recent revival.

Umno had in recent weeks turned up the heat on PAS and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim by questioning their credentials in protecting Malay interests.

Muhyiddin, who is in charge of Umno/BN’s campaign, has been particularly embarrassed.

Asked by reporters today about reports Rohaizat had been the subject of numerous complaints and how he had been fined twice by the Bar Council, the DPM likened the fines to parking tickets.

He said the Umno campaign was considering having Rohaizat put out a statutory declaration to clear the air on the controversy.

“But whatever it is the voters will decide and I believe they understand the development BN brings,” said Muhyiddin.