Tommy Thomas declines questioning by task force into his memoir to 'protect' AGC

Tan Sri Tommy Thomas is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 17, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Tan Sri Tommy Thomas is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 17, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said he has no intention of cooperating or taking part in a special task force set up to investigate his controversial book My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.

In a letter sent to the chairman of the task force of the investigation, Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, Thomas said the task force's creation is not only unprecedented but without legal basis, and potentially jeopardises the independence of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

“I have to protect former attorneys general and also incumbents of the post, and also all officers at the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) who must be able to make prosecution decisions in the interests of the people they serve, without fear or favour.

“My participation in the task force will be unconstitutional and will set a dangerous precedent that will burden them. This goes against the interests of the public,” he said in a letter sighted by the media today.

Citing Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution, Thomas said the attorney general (AG) is appointed by the King on the advice of the prime minister.

He said that under Article 145(3), the AG as public prosecutor, is empowered at his or her discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, save for proceedings before a Shariah court, a native court or a court martial.

“The Public Prosecutor's discretion has developed over centuries in England and has been adopted throughout the Commonwealth.

"Further in operational matters relating to specific individual cases, the PP, even when he was a Member of Parliament in periods after Merdeka, was not accountable to Parliament or to the media," said the 70-year-old lawyer who was AG from June 2018 to February 2020.

According to Thomas, the public prosecutor is not accountable to Cabinet or others in the executive branch of government regarding prosecution.

He was also of the view that he would not be "judged by his peers" as Fong, being the current Sarawak state legal adviser and a former Sarawak state attorney general, was subordinate and not equal to the federal AG.

Fong was appointed by de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to head the task force back in October last year and to look into the allegations in the book by Thomas, which include appointment of judges, excessive intervention by the executive arm of government in the judicial system, and selective prosecution.

A report on its findings is supposed to be presented to Cabinet six months after its formation.

The other members of the task force include former Sabah state secretary Hashim Pijan, former director of the legal affairs division Junaidah Kamaruddin, former judge and AGC senior federal counsel Jagjit Singh and representatives from interested ministries and departments.

Thomas' autobiography, which gave his account of affairs in the country during his brief tenure as AG when Pakatan Harapan was government, triggered a firestorm of police reports, with a significant number from Umno.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today mocked Thomas for not cooperating with the task force set up to investigate certain claims he made in his book.

The Pekan MP noted that the task force was formed to investigate the allegations of political interference that Thomas made when he was AG and had publicly written about in his book.

“He leaked [the issues] but complains when the government wants to investigate,” Najib said in a Facebook post today.

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