PERMATANG PASIR, 18 Aug 2009: Rohaizat Othman‘s disbarment from legal practice will be a millstone around his neck as he runs for the Permatang Pasir state seat as the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s candidate.
From the start, at the filing of nomination papers yesterday on 17 Aug, most of the 15 objections received by the Election Commission were on the syariah legal adviser’s disbarment on 7 March 2008 by the Bar Council.
Today, PAS extended “pity and sympathies” to Rohaizat, 38, for being made to stand in the by-election at the risk of his political future. PAS, which is contesting to retain this state seat in Permatang Pauh, Penang, has urged Rohaizat to withdraw from the polls.
Mahfuz (left) and PAS candidate Salleh at the
“As a candidate, he is now exposed to criticisms about his past. He is still young with a long future ahead of him. It is a pity. It is better for him to withdraw and protect his image as he has a long way to go in politics,” PAS by-elections operations director Datuk Mahfuz Omar said today.
Rohaizat, who is also the Permatang Pauh Umno division secretary, took the Bar Council’s decision to the High Court, which dismissed his appeal on 12 Aug 2009.
In a statement today, Malaysian Bar secretary George Varughese said the advocates and solicitors disciplinary board struck Rohaizat off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors after he was found guilty of misconduct.
“The disciplinary board’s decision arose from an investigation into the complaint lodged against Rohaizat Othman by the purchaser of a piece of real property. According to the complaint, Rohaizat failed to refund almost RM161,000 to the complainant after the transaction was aborted,” Varughese said.
Varughese added that the finding of misconduct was personal to Rohaizat, as the disciplinary board would not hold a lawyer liable for the actions of his or her law partners.
The Bar’s explanation is contrary to Penang Umno liaison chief and party vice-president Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi‘s statement that the offence was committed by Rohaizat’s legal firm partner.
Mahfuz, speaking at a press conference at the PAS by-election headquarters here, said even if that was the case, Rohaizat could not claim ignorance as he was a partner in the firm.
“As a partner, he should know how his own firm is run. If he cannot manage his firm, how to manage a whole constituency?” said Mahfuz.
Responding to PAS’s call for Rohaizat to withdraw from the by-election, Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan said “only cowards would suggest such a thing”.
He said Rohaizat was the best candidate for the BN because he was a young working professional, was a local, came from a good family, and had worked hard in Umno since 1996.
Barisan Nasional candidate Rohaizat Othman (left) and Mohd Salleh Man of PAS
greet each other behind face masks (pic courtesy of theSun)
Rohaizat is a graduate of the International Islamic University. In his nomination papers, his occupation is described as a businessperson. He is a syariah legal adviser but has stopped practising law since 2005.
He faces Penang PAS commissioner Mohd Salleh Man, 52, in a straight fight. Polling is on 25 Aug.
Mahfuz today highlighted Salleh’s Islamic credentials to the press, describing him as an “ulama”. The syariah graduate from Universiti Malaya is self-employed. He conducts religious training at surau around the constituency and has served as a mosque official as well as a religious school teacher. He also rose through the ranks of PAS Youth in Penang to become the state commissioner.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said that Rohaizat’s disbarment from legal practice was a non-issue because the law still allowed him to stand as an election candidate.
That may be the case, but Rohaizat still faces a credibility issue, and PAS appears prepared to exploit that.
The Permatang Pasir question
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