KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Former attorney general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has said he was glad that his successor Tan Sri Idrus Harun had maintained the same teams of prosecutors for trials related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
In an interview last night with Astro Awani’s talk show Consider This, Thomas said he does not know more than what the average readers read on news from such cases, also noting that he has been following the SRC appeal more closely compared to the other 1MDB cases.
“In so far as the Tanore case and all other 1MDB cases, frankly I have not been following as much as I would like to, but I’m quite sure the prosecution teams are very much the same, there’s hardly any change in personnel.
“And I’m very glad my successor has continued with those teams, and I think we are doing our best.
“I’m confident, we’ve always had a good case, strong cases and hopefully our teams can establish that, because the burden of proof is on the prosecution to establish guilt,” he said.
Thomas was responding to the show’s co-host Melisa Idris’s question on whether he was watching the 1MDB trial and whether he was satisfied with the way things are going, in light of his role in the 1MDB prosecutions. (Such prosecutions were kicked off during Thomas’s tenure as Malaysia’s AG from June 2018 to February 2020.)
The SRC appeal is an appeal by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak against his July 28, 2020 conviction and sentencing on seven charges relating to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million.
The Tanore trial is a reference to Najib’s ongoing trial involving four power abuse charges and 21 money laundering charges in relation to more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
In the same talk show last night, Thomas told show co-host Sharaad Kuttan that he was very conscious when writing his memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness — released on January 30, 2021 — that there were certain things that he could not reveal as the AG.
For topics related to his tenure as AG, Thomas said he had placed them in dedicated chapters that were in some way self-exhaustive or subjects that were already in the public domain such as 1MDB, the SRC trial and a lawsuit relating to the European Union’s views on Malaysian palm oil.
He explained that he had tried to give his perspective for such matters as the AG in office then.
Asked by Melisa what he had wanted to achieve with the book by publishing it in early 2021 after leaving the AG post in early 2020, Thomas said he had wanted to put on record his perspective.
“It’s very clear in my mind that I wanted to put on record what the Pakatan Harapan government endeavoured to do in just short of two years they were in power. I did that from a general perspective because obviously my role was very limited as a lawyer, that was the general intention.
“More specifically, I wanted to put on record what we tried to do from all things legal, so somebody could look at it. When history is prepared, contemporaneous writing or instant journalism is the first draft of history, so I was very conscious of that,” he said, highlighting that it was the norm for prime ministers and ministers in the UK to write either diaries or memoirs about their time in office and that that these have always been useful.
Earlier in the same interview, Thomas told Melisa that he did expect that there would be backlash to his memoir, but said he was surprised at the speed of the reaction that came in.
“Part of being frank and candid in writing is I knew I would step on the toes of many people, and a lot of them have thin skin so I wasn’t surprised, but what I was surprised at was the speed at which the reaction developed, emerged,” he said, noting that the book was not widely available in the first three or four days of its January 30 release but that there was already much reaction within a day or two.