‘Beyond ethnicity, serious concerns about choice of Attorney-General’. FMT Reporters
It’s not merely a question of ethnicity, there are other concerns such as a possible conflict of interest, poor command of the national language and lack of understanding about the shariah.
Reservations over the possible appointment of constitutional expert Tommy Thomas as the new attorney-general may have to do with concerns about conflict of interest and problems in dealing with his day-to-day job, more than ethnic and religious factors, according to a highly placed source close to the government.
The source confirmed that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s choice of a non-Malay and non-Muslim as head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers has not sat well with some within Pakatan Harapan (PH).
But it was pure speculation “bordering on lobbying” to suggest that the disagreement had to do with Thomas’s ethnicity and religion, it said.
The source, who agreed to speak to FMT on the condition of strict anonymity, said many had pointed out that Thomas had been part of the legal team for Lim Guan Eng, the current finance minister.
Thomas appeared alongside Gobind Singh Deo when Lim challenged committal proceedings initiated by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, in a case linked to the corruption charges against Lim.
He also represented the Penang government under Lim, when the state sued the Election Commission and the federal government to restore municipal elections.
“He had represented Guan Eng. This is a conflict of interest that is direct, clear and obvious,” the source said……
An orchestrated whispering campaign seems underfoot, with anonymous writers and sources crawling out of the woodwork to spin conflicting stories designed to undermine the new Prime Minister’s choice of Attorney General.
The concerted villification bears the familiar hallmarks of tactics associated with the premiership of Najib. It can be deduced, therefore, that Najib and his remaining allies fear or resent the constitutional expert, Tommy Thomas, who has been put forward as a tough corruption-buster for the job.
He is not ‘Malay’ enough; he has not the ‘right sort’ of legal background; he is ‘pro-Chinese’, the sniping goes. This is all old-style, divisive talk to distract from real issues, such as whether the new AG will open a review of the apparent cover-up over the murder of Altantuya and other such dirty episodes from the recent past?
A key player in that apparent cover-up over Altantuya was Najib’s then lawyer Cecil Abraham, whose son Sunil went to school with the present Agong and represented him in a gruesome battle against his own father, the Sultan of Kelantan (who protested at being disregarded by his son as regent). The Agong reportedly calls Cecil ‘uncle’ and the father and son are amongst his known advisors.
Those advisors should be wary, if, as suggested by all the rumour-mongering, this Agong is indeed objecting to the cabinet’s choice for Attorney General, since it presents a glaring inconsistency to voters, who just elected the new government on an anti-corruption agenda. The Prime Minister has proposed Tommy Thomas, who holds a clean and decent reputation, for a two year term to tackle that agenda.
Why should the PM be thwarted when the rulers and previous Agong did nothing in 2015, after the previous Attorney General was marched from his office at gun-point and forceably ‘retired’ from his post by Najib Razak, in order to protect himself from charges over 1MDB? That move was unconstitutional, yet there was not a murmur from the rulers.
Instead, the then Agong tamely appointed a notorious legal crony put forward by Najib, Apandi Ali. Apandi proceeded to conduct himself shamefully, bowing to preposterous excuses from the tainted PM and refusing to cooperate with officers from the MACC and Central Bank, who demanded charges must be laid.
Indeed, just before the election, the present Agong renewed the tenure of that same Apandi, who by then was derided worldwide for refusing to cooperate with law enforcers from the United States, Singapore and Switzerland, seeking to retrieve billions stolen through 1MDB on behalf of Malaysians, who were not being served by their own government.
Only now, when an unblemished and upright senior law officer is being proposed for the job is it being alleged that the Agong and some rulers are making objections on spurious grounds, presumably on the urging of advisors who may themselves be tainted. Given the clear delays, it is time for the Agong to act to dispel such dangerous gossip and end the apparent indecision.
Malaysians voted decisively last month in favour of a clean up. They do not want to have to conclude that people close to previous corrupt ways continue to have undue influence over high-level appointments or that petty excuses and ill-founded objections are being made to keep a corruption-buster out of the post of AG.