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Woman claims blocked from becoming lawyer because of lawsuit over Zakir Naik.

A law graduate has accused her superior of hindering her for over a year from becoming a practising lawyer due to her participation in a lawsuit against the government that sought televangelist Dr Zakir Naik's deportation.

Asiah Abd Jalil, 36, said she completed her pupillage on February 26 last year, but her master from a law firm based in Kuantan, Pahang, has allegedly refused to sign the papers necessary for her admittance into the Malaysian Bar.

'It is clear that [Mr 's] reluctance to sign Form 8 was simply because of his personal objections against my participation in the lawsuit over Dr Zakir Naik.

'[Mr ] firmly ordered me to hold a press conference and to apologise openly to Dr Zakir Naik, after which only would he sign the form,' Asiah said in a letter to the Bar Council on May 11 2017 that was sighted by Malay Mail.

In a series of WhatsApp messages dated March 2 last year, Asiah's master allegedly told her that he was frustrated with the way she 'teamed up' with Indian rights group Hindraf and lawyer-activist Siti Kasim by calling Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian national with permanent residence in Malaysia, a terrorist.

'I certainly don't want to pay the price for sin or feel guilty for my chambie's behaviour if it is against Islam,' Asiah's master was quoted saying, using the nickname for 'chambering student'.

'Hence, I decided not to endorse on any of your long call papers and if situation forced me to sign, I won't put onto you your robe during your long call hearing.'

Long call papers are forms filed to get admitted into the Bar, while a long call hearing is when a judge admits a law graduate into the legal association to become a practising lawyer.

Asiah's master allegedly said the 'terrorist' accusations against Dr Zakir were excessive as the Muslim televangelist had never called for the murder of non-Muslims, unlike the Islamic State.

'He is an expert in comparative religion and we as Muslims should be grateful that there is someone like him who is very knowledgeable in comparative religion. His good efforts have [convinced] many to confidently embrace Islam,' Asiah's master allegedly said.

Asiah and 18 others - including Siti and Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy, who had initiated the suit and is now a Cabinet minister - filed a lawsuit in March last year against the government, seeking Dr Zakir's arrest and deportation, as well as a government declaration that the Mumbai-born preacher was a threat to national security. The High Court threw out the suit last February, reportedly on grounds that Dr Zakir was not named a party in the suit.

Asiah's master filed a caveat on July 10 against her appearance at the High Court scheduled yesterday for her admittance into the Malaysian Bar.

The master's caveat sighted by Malay Mail accused Asiah of defaming him and his firm on Facebook by wrongly portraying him as a 'racist and narrow-minded Muslim', among other allegations.

'The petitioner's attitude, morality, and behaviour do not indicate that she has fulfilled the 'good character' criterion for admittance and registration as a lawyer, as per what has been mandated under Section 11(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 (Qualifications for Admissions),' he said.

Asiah wrote four letters to the Bar Council last year on April 5, May 11, June 14, and August 30 to complain about her master's refusal to sign the papers for her admittance into the Malaysian Bar.

Asiah told Malay Mail today that the Bar Council gave her special permission to file her long call papers without her master's signature, by substituting her Form 8 with a statutory declaration.

She said the Attorney-General's Chambers did not object to her papers, but her master's caveat halted her long call ceremony yesterday.

'As you can find out, in the caveat, my master mentioned nothing about Zakir Naik. He is attacking my character instead,' Asiah said, adding that she was challenging the caveat.

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said today the Bar Council did not object to Asiah's petition to be admitted into the Bar and that the objection was by her master.

'All I can say for the moment is BC has rendered all assistance to Asiah, as we have done before in previous cases of this nature,' he told Malay Mail.

'As the matter is pending a decision in the courts, it's best that I reserve my comments till a decision is delivered. I am also unaware of the reason/s for the Master's caveat.'
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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Jul 21, 2018
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