IT is not clear as to why Minister in the Prime Minister Department (Law and institutional reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said wants a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on the former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ memoir.
She said that RCI was more comprehensive than the task force set up by the former government.
Thomas’ memoir My Story: Justice in Wilderness which was published after he left office raised questions of judicial appointments, selective prosecution and the interference of the executive in the judiciary.
Azlina agreed that the earlier task force was narrow in scope, focused too much on Thomas to the neglect of broader legal and constitutional issues.
She added that the RCI was not a revenge against Thomas but can lead to examining broader legal and constitutional matters pertaining to the separation of powers between the former AG and the public prosecutor.
Well, if the RCI is not intended to probe the allegations contained in Thomas’ memoirs, then what is the real reason for the RCI?
Why is the need the RCI to zero-in on Thomas’ memoir unless of the contents are objectionable.
In this respect, are there differences between the present government and the former except in the nature of the probe itself?
The task force was more vindictive in nature but I am not sure whether this is the real intention of the present government.
Azalina might be well-meaning but to use Thomas’ memoir as the launch pad stands the chance of giving a political slant to RCI.
The former government wanted to punish Thomas for bringing out some unpalatable matters on the judiciary and the executive. This is the reason why Thomas has challenged the constitutionality of the task force.
Anyway, the matter is before the court for judicial adjudication. It is not that the RCI is not important given it is far better than setting up ad hoc mechanisms to probe controversial issues.
Probing without ulterior motives
My question is: why the RCI on Thomas’ memoir when there are many other outstanding issues that need national scrutiny. The state of race relations is one area that needs a RCI.
There are many others. It is not that Thomas memoir contains serious allegations that cannot be probed.
Probe by all means without being guided by other considerations. However, if these allegations have a basis, then there is need to accept these truths and move forward.
I am not saying that Thomas is infallible. There is no need to agree with Thomas’ allegations, but these allegations can be countered in a proper manner without resorting to government sanctioned probes.
If the purpose of the RCI is to focus on broader legal and constitutional matters with the objective of institutional reforms, then why the need to probe Thomas’ memoir.
A RCI can be initiated without the need to go through Thomas’ memoir.
Whatever can be said about Thomas, he and his team in the AG’s Chambers (AGC) should be credited for bringing charges against those who were involved in massive corruption.
It would be ironic to have state sanctioned probe against Thomas for pointing out as what ails the present legal system in the government. – Jan 18, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: MalaysiaNow