Claiming interference in Adib inquest, Muslim groups demand AG quit

Gerakan Pembela Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya (centre) and other members gather in protest outside the Attorney General’s Chambers in Putrajaya May 31, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Gerakan Pembela Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya (centre) and other members gather in protest outside the Attorney General’s Chambers in Putrajaya May 31, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, May 31 — Some 30 members from an Islamist coalition of Muslim groups Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) demonstrated outside the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) here today.

The demonstration was peaceful, with the members holding up placards on printed paper with messages in Malay calling Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas to resign.

There were two other larger-sized posters, once saying “No U-turn” and the other, in Malay, calling “Justice for Adib” with a picture of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, a 24-year-old fireman who died last December from severe injuries sustained during rioting at a Hindu temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Led by its chairman Aminuddin Yahaya, who is also president of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), the coalition accused Thomas of interference in an ongoing inquest to find out the cause of the fireman’s death by directing a private lawyer engaged to represent the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Fire and Rescue Department and Adib’s kin to withdraw.

The coalition also called Thomas “unfit for the post”, accusing him of “confusing” the public on several other matters, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“Since your appointment as the attorney-general, confusion has arisen among the people, especially your failure to manage major national issues such as ICERD and the Rome Statute.

“The most recent is the death of Muhammad Adib, which you have failed to handle effectively.

“You are also seen unable to perform the task fairly when you submitted an affidavit stating that Muhammad Adib was not beaten to death but instead had died from an accident. The filing was done during the course of the inquest when the Coroner’s Court has yet to come to a conclusion.

“Lastly is the directive from your office for lawyer Syazlin Mansor to withdrew her representation for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Fire Department in the inquest,” said Aminuddin said of Thomas during an impromptu press conference outside the AGC.

Ummah deputy president Kamarulzaman Mohd who was also present said the coalition will also send its memorandum to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Sultan Ahmad Shah and the Prime Minister’s Office after Hari Raya Aidilfitri to request Thomas’ removal.

“If our demands are not viewed seriously even after sending the memoranda to the respective parties, we plan to hold a mega rally to raise awareness on the AG's failures,” he said.

Aminuddin and Kamarulzaman were able to enter the AGC to submit their memorandum at about 11.30am, half an hour after their gathering.

Aminuddin later told reporters that Thomas was present but declined to meet the group, and sent a representative to accept the memorandum.

Faced with public furore over Syazlin’s abrupt withdrawal from the inquest on its 37th day, the AG came out to explain a conflict of interest in the engagement of a public lawyer to represent the government while also acting for the fireman’s family.

Thomas also said Syazlin had taken a position contrary to federal counsel acting for the government during the inquest, causing confusion.