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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has reportedly said that PAS may have helped him stay as attorney general, instead of resigning the next day after his appointment in June 2018 to the country’s top legal post.
News portal Malaysiakini cited the full prologue of Thomas’ book My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, after the book was released and made available to the public yesterday.
Previously in reports of an excerpt of the prologue released by the memoir’s seller Gerakbudaya, Thomas had suggested that he could have been the attorney general for just a single day, due to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s concern about the “scale and magnitude of the Malay opposition” to his appointment.
Thomas had said he was “utterly astounded” that Dr Mahathir had wanted him to resign the next day, after the prime minister told him in June 2018 that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had assented to his appointment as attorney general.
Today, Malaysiakini said the full prologue showed that Thomas had struggled to write a press statement to explain his decision to resign, and that Dr Mahathir later agreed to handle the drafting of the press statement.
Thomas reportedly said that Dr Mahathir that night changed his mind after PAS released a statement regarding the announcement earlier that day of the royal assent to Thomas’ appointment as attorney general.
“Apparently, a public statement issued by PAS that night that they had no objections to my appointment, especially since I had represented the PAS governments of Terengganu and Kelantan in their petroleum royalty cases against Petronas, had surprised Tun (Mahathir),” he was quoted saying in his prologue by Malaysiakini.
According to Malaysiakini, PAS was initially not in favour of Thomas as attorney general but the political party had subsequently changed its position after Agong announced his appointment.
Thomas said he received a phone call from Dr Mahathir the next morning at 7.30am, with the then prime minister wanting him to take the position instead and giving his assurance that he would have his full trust, which resulted in Thomas then accepting the appointment.
Thomas said he was indebted to his confidants for helping to secure his appointment, also reportedly saying: “Quite ironically, PAS may have also contributed to my appointment with a perfectly timed press release.”
Malaysiakini reported that Thomas’ book later said that both Umno and PAS had in February 2020 wanted DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng removed as finance minister and Thomas himself to be removed as attorney general, in exchange for cooperation with Dr Mahathir after the Sheraton Move.
Thomas reportedly said that this condition was due to their anger over what they viewed as a “racist” decision by him as attorney general to drop all charges against all suspects of the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group.
Malaysiakini said Dr Mahathir then was attempting to have a unity government established, and Thomas had in his memoir claimed that Dr Mahathir intended not to renew his contract as attorney general upon its June 2020 expiry and that the then interim prime minister believed that Umno and PAS would agree to such a date.
In his memoir, Thomas reportedly said that he decided to resign as attorney general on February 28, as he wished to do so while Dr Mahathir still held the prime minister role as he felt it would soon change.
The next day, Istana Negara announced that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be sworn in as prime minister. Muhyiddin was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister the day after — March 1.
Published by Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD), the 573-page book by Thomas is available for purchase from Gerakbudaya.