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PETALING JAYA, June 5 — Malaysia now has the best lawyer possible to take court action on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, senior partners at the legal firm Tommy Thomas Advocates and Solicitors said today.
In a congratulatory statement on Thomas’ appointment as the new Attorney General (AG) following the termination of Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, lawyers Sitpah Selvaratnam, Alan A. Gomez and Ganesan Nethi said they would miss him but are happy that there would now be major reforms to the law made.
“At a time when our country has resoundingly voted for integrity and accountability, placing Thomas at the helm of the major institution of justice and law, is a true mark of commitment to reform.
“While we shall obviously miss him, we are delighted for our country, as Thomas’s combined talent, integrity, legal knowledge and experience, gives Malaysia one of its best and brightest barristers as its next Attorney General,” they jointly said in a statement to the media.
They pointed out that while Thomas has been described as a constitutional lawyer in the media, he had spent most of his 42 years in practice working on corporate and commercial cases.
Among Thomas’ achievements highlighted by the partners were his success in landmark corporate debt and asset recovery cases such as Lian Keow vs Overseas Credit Finance, and Bank Bumiputra vs Lorrain Osman.
They noted that more recently, Thomas acted for the Securities Commission against Swisscash, the worldwide Ponzi scheme hatched in Malaysia that resulted in what is believed to be the largest reparation of funds for victims.
Thomas was also successful as team leader in two of the best known bond recovery cases in Malaysia, Pesaka Astana and Aldwich Berhad.
“And as corporate asset recovery is topical, with the Government focused on recovering the assets of 1MDB, there is no doubt in our mind that they have appointed Malaysia’s finest barrister in that field, with the knowledge, experience and industry to lead the 1MDB litigation, whether civil or criminal,” they said.
The lawyers also said Thomas handled some of Malaysia’s largest and most complex cases, and in addition to his outstanding track record on commercial cases, he has had a strong public law practice, having acted on major judicial review and constitutional matters.
They also pointed out that a significant number of cases he has handled was for poor clients, for which he waived the usual legal charges.
“Thomas brings with him substantial trial and appellate experience, having appeared in all the Courts of Malaysia, and on appeals to the Privy Council in the mid1980s.
“Above everything that Thomas has done in his career at the Bar, he relentlessly stood by what was just and fair; true and right,” they added.
Thomas is the new AG after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V consented to the Pakatan Harapan government’s nomination.
The comptroller of the royal household, Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz, said in a statement His Majesty had expressed concern over recent media reports that were inaccurate and negative that could jeopardise the peace and harmony of the country.
He said His Royal Highness bore the responsibility to uphold the Federal Constitution and the rights of Malays and Bumiputera as well as protecting Islam.
“His Majesty called for all Malaysians to accept that the appointment of the AG should not raise a racial or religious conflict as all Malaysians have to be treated justly regardless of race and religion.
“This appointment still maintains the privileges and rights of the Malays and Bumiputera as well as the position of Islam as the Federal religion,” said Wan Ahmad Dahlan.