With all the high profile cases scheduled to be heard and some already being heard now, attempts to discredit the Attorney General is in full force. The defense lawyers among other measures, have bloggers, to “assist” themselves and their high profile clients to do this, while the defense force will marshall all the means at their disposal to unsettle the Attorney General Chambers. Given this scenario, what are we to make of the recent “revelations” that questions the very foundation that is meant to ensure that the principle of fairness and justice…the very quality of mercy…is not strained and shall be upheld by the Attorney General and his Attorney General Chamber’s officers in their role as Guardians of Justice?
Let me start by questioning the appointment of Tommy Thomas!
Is Tommy Thomas a political appointee of the Pakatan Harapan Government? Is the Head of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Head of Judicial and Legal Service a running dog of this Pakatan Harapan government?
By his own admission in June this year, at a meeting with State and Ministries Legal Advisors attended by Senior Management of the Attorney General’s Chambers, Tommy Thomas declares himself to be a political appointee of Pakatan Harapan. In so doing he infers his inability to discharge his duties without fear or favor! And if the AG cannot discharge his duties without fear or favor, how can the AGC officers he is head of, do the same? So surely that means that the rule of law that Mahathir speaks of and the principle of fairness and justice to all that this PH government insists it will uphold, all this, will surely be compromised? Will it not? Surely this affects the credibility and integrity of the AG and the AGC as the “guardian of Justice?” Does it not?
But then, is not the AG and his AGC officers to be loyal to the Pakatan Harapan government? For are they all, not Public Officers who must display loyalty to the government of the day? And yet such loyalty should not compromise the rule of law and the principle of fairness and justice to all. Surely an impossibility in Bolehland…but such are the realities that the AG and the AGC now find itself in. And that impossibility is now being “exploited” by the defense lawyers and the defense forces that are now finding themselves aligned against the AG and his AGC officers.
They tell us that there will be no fair trial for their high profile client for the AG is a political appointee of the Pakatan Harapan government and is therefore tainted!
They tell us that Public Prosecutors in the various states are acquaintances of, recommended or directly appointed by the Attorney General…Sitpah Selvaratam for the Equanimity Case, Robert Lazar for the DBKL’s land issues, Mohanandas (Sitpah’s husband) for the Bonsoon Bunyamit arbitration settlement….all true! But then these appointments are within the AG’s powers under the Criminal Procedure Code [Act 593] and the Government Proceeding Act 1956 [Act 359]…are they not?
The AG is also being accused of various failures and weaknesses in his leadership of the AGC that has, so they say, demoralized AGC officers and legal officers located at the Ministries and in the States. He is said to be openly critical of their inability to be competent and committed in the discharging of their duties when compared to private-sector lawyers. And he has laced these comments with profanity and inappropriate hand gestures! The AG has been heard uttering “bugger” and “fucker” in the presence of AGC officers….practices that are not part of the public service culture and can be deemed as sexual harassment and against social etiquettes.
There was the unjust Removal of Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria as the Solicitor General III (SG III) and his demotion to Senior Research Officer at Judicial, Legal Training Institute under the Prime Minister’s Office and other “allegations” that question the conduct of the AG…..but as in all these allegations, there are bound to be people, be it lawyers, NGOs or the general public who would be unhappy or disagree with the actions or decisions made by the AG and his officers. All this is par for the course and surely are part and parcel of what happens in public service. In as long as the reputation and dignity of the Ag and AGC officers have not been too compromised, and they have so far NOT been compromised, then the issue of “dishonesty” of the AG and the AGC officers should not be raised at all.
How conversant is the AG towards prosecution work process?
Granted that Tommy Thomas is a renowned commercial lawyer, he has little experience in conducting criminal cases. In these matters, it would seem that Thomas is influenced by NGOs and private-sector lawyers who have no knowledge of how prosecution is to be conducted in AGC or how AGC normally functions. Maybe the AG should allow himself to be guided by DPPs but Tommy Thomas as the AG, will have his preference and will have to take responsibility for the things that he chose to do when acting upon “their” advice.
How about the AG’s leadership qualities?
Does Tommy Thomas have a calm and firm disposition or is he easily agitated and reacts rashly without consideration of its ramification to him, the department and the Government? Does he have the integrity and credibility to lead the AGC in its role as the “guardian of justice?”. I would not go so far as to venture an opinion in these matters. It is for you to judge for yourself the right or wrong of anyone claiming that Tommy Thomas, as AG has, or lack such qualities….but surely, as a “political appointee,” he now enjoys the confidence of this Pakatan Harapan government. And that is the be-all and end-all of any arguments/discussions on the suitability and ability of Tommy Thomas to be the Attorney General in as long as Pakatan Harapan holds the rein of government. End of story.