KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Deputy Law Minister Hanipa Maidin defended today the attorney-general’s decision to discontinue prosecuting 12 Malaysians for their alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) even as the Home Ministry insisted the group’s classification as a terrorist organisation.
Hanipa acknowledged the harsh criticisms against Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas following the announcement and the many calls for an explanation, but said the decision should be respected even if they disagreed with it.
“It is fair not to accept any reasons given by the AG. But, at the end of the day, it is not the reasons which matter. What matters is the integrity of such an office-the AG’s office.
“When the beholder of such an office has an impeccable integrity, in my view, we have to give any benefit of the doubt against any of his decision, to him. Therein lies the rule of law,” he said in a statement.
He pointed out that the AG has vast discretionary powers under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to prefer or not to prefer any criminal charge against anybody.
“The power includes his decision to pursue or not to pursue any pending criminal charge against any accused person.”
Hanipa also said Thomas has been transparent and gave his reasons for dropping the case even though it is not required by law.
He added that doing so is part of a good decision-making process in administrative law as the public is then able to see how the AG arrived at his conclusion.
Yesterday, Thomas issued an exhaustive 11-page statement explaining the grounds for discontinuing the LTTE case against the 12 Malaysians — including Melaka state executive councillor G. Saminathan, Negri Sembilan assemblyman P. Gunasekaran — charged with supporting a terrorist organisation last October.
He said he had found insufficient evidence that would lead to a “realistic prospect of conviction”, noting the materials found on all 12 accused to suggest a link with the LTTE were mere images of its founder Velupillai Prabhakaran, which he said were akin to admiration that did not necessarily translate into terrorist actions.
In the same statement, Thomas also exhorted the Home Ministry to relook the terror designation on the LTTE.
However, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has since responded and said the LTTE which was designated a terror group since 2014 will remain as the latest information still suggests the group remains a threat to Malaysia’s public order and national security.