The Malaysian Insider - RMAF says ex-airman’s lawyer helping him go AWOL.
A lawyer representing ex-airman N Tharmendran accused of stealing two F5-E jet engines has been served a letter by the air force advising him that he risks opening himself up to criminal charges for allegedly aiding a deserter.
N Surendran of Lawyers for Liberty was today served at his office with a letter from the Royal Malaysian Air Force RMAF claiming Tharmendran was still on active duty until May 28 next year … […] … the air force chief demanded that Surendran advise Tharmendran to hand himself in to armed forces personnel within seven days or face potential criminal proceedings under Section 135 and 136 of the Penal Code … […]
… the letter said: Your failure to do so will expose you to offences under Section 135 and or 136 of the Penal Code which we believe you are more knowledgeable about. The punishment for abetting or harbouring a deserter under either section is a two-year prison sentence or a fine or both.
Lawyers for Liberty said in a press statement that the letter amounted to serious and unprecedented interference with the duties of a lawyer defending a client in a criminal matter. Members of the Malaysian Bar do not take instructions from the armed forces as to what to advise their clients. This unlawful threat and demand against Surendran must be immediately withdrawn and the Minister of Defence must answer for the actions of the air force chief to the public and the Bar …
Lawyers for Liberty further claimed that the air force’s own documents showed that Tharmendran’s service ended on May 28 and that he has not been paid wages since June.
When contacted, Surendran told The Malaysian Insider that the letter was a naked threat aimed at preventing him for doing his best to help his client.
“No lawyer can be said to be abetting a person if he is merely rendering legal advice and representing him in court. Whatever the dispute is they cannot threaten me with criminal proceedings because I’m just doing my job.
Unfortunately the TUDM has a well recorded notoriety for gungho conduct. Some years ago, one of its previous Chiefs, a man by the name of Abdullah, instructed his men to vote for the BN. In doing so he violated a basic code of conduct by a military man (a Chief at that), by becoming involvced in politics!
The TUDM has had many controversies over the years where the most troubling were two incidents (separated by years) relating to its officers (one Indian and one Malay) being killed by fellow officers during hazing (ragging).